Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tongli (同里)

Warning, this post has a lot of pictures. Over the past two weeks Mark and I took close to 3500 pictures, granted most of them were bad, there were still a few that turned out okay.

Tongli was more commercialized than Xitang, so our preference was Xitang. We also found that there were more alleys and lane ways in Xitang even though it is a much smaller canal town. That being said, the food in Tongli was very good, and you do get a good sense of what China was like back in the day.

We still managed to take plenty of pictures of Tongli. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Shanghai, like Beijing had beautiful weather. Unfortunately, most of the Bund is under construction, thanks to the Expo being held in Shanghai next year. When it is not under construction it is quite lovely.

We spent most of the morning at YuYuan Gardens. This was originally built by some very rich people back in the Ming Dynasty, but subsequently was destroyed by the Japanese. After many dollars and years later, the Yu Yuan Gardens are very lovely and quite serene assuming you can avoid the throngs of tourists.

Then it was off to the Bund and then finally off for a martini at the Grand Hyatt. They had to see the city from both perspectives, day and evening, just to compare!

Enroute to the Bund. There's still glimpses of old Shanghai

View from the Grand Hyatt

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tour with Barb and Nancy

Now that Barb and Nancy have left us and are enjoying Hong Kong, Mark and I figure we would back track a bit. The next few days we will share some photos that we took while travelling from Beijing to Shanghai, to Tongli, and finally to Xi'an before heading back to Xiamen.

When Barb, Nancy and I went to the Great Wall, we were extremely fortunate for two things, that a) the weather was outstanding, and b) there were few people walking the Great Wall. Barb walked a bit of it, while I continued walking hoping to avoid crowds when taking pictures. I was very lucky, aside from a couple ahead of me, and a group of French tourists, way, way ahead of me, I basically had a section of the wall, all to myself. Rare, I am sure, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

The next day we went to the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square. Apparently you can only see Mao's mausoleum in the morning. It's closed on Tuesday's which we were fine with. There were more people here than on the Great Wall, but still not as bad as last October, after the Olympic Games. These cats knew how to live!

While we were at the Forbidden City, Nancy and Barb were a hit with the Chinese!

The weather in all the places we visited was excellent. Clear skies and warm temperatures.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Damage Report

Well, another set of guests have come and gone and Tina's luxury travel services are starting to show signs of wear.... Actually that''s not fully true, Barb and Nancy did enjoy their time (or so they told us) and we were able to take advantage of them coming to get Tina back up to Beijing for some sightseeing and I tagged along with them to see the canals of Tongli and the warriors in Xi'an.

But our apartment took a hit with these guests, as well as the loss of Tina's much loved new cellphone. Tina get's a little harried trying to ensure that everyone is having a great time, and while in Shanghai at the knock-off market she was paying more attention to helping the girls with their haggling for pricing and someone did the accidental bump and pulled her phone right out of her pocket. I'll give it to Tina though, she got over the loss fairly quickly (I'd have been pissed for 2-3 weeks) and by day two sans phone she no longer get upset when I'd kid her about it.

As for the apartment, I don't even know where to begin. Nancy fell when out on the balcony doing laundry and used our bucket and dust bin to cushion her fall. Tina immediately threw the dustbin out, but the broken bucket is still out there as a silent reminder.
The balcony and Nancy did not get along, as she also managed to break our 70 RMB (10USD) fold up chair while we sat out there one evening enjoying some wine and music. Yesterday we also noticed a new dent in the balcony railing, you can kind of see in in the photo -
So, we aren't really sure what Nancy did, but in retrospect we think that a dented railing and some broken items are better then if the railing had given out and our friend took the quick way down 20 floors....

But all of that was Nancy, and we think that she was just trying to catch up with the damage that Barb inflicted on the apartment on night one. As she wrote in her first post, we learnt a little about how toilets are plumbed in over here.
Our small bathroom before guests and then after -
Yep, we are down one bathroom. The toilet was just caulked to the floor so when a jet-lagged Barb bumped into it on their first night here, a little harder then the toilet expected, the toilet just slid back and bumped the corer of the wall and shattered.

Four people for a full 8 days with only one bathroom does get a bit tough. We will have the toilet repaired before our next guests arrive in the latter part of May.

Barb and Nancy will be getting invoices from Tina's Travel for repairs.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The End

Well it is hard to believe but it has been over 2 weeks and we are heading to Hong Kong today. We had a wonderful time with Mark and Tina. It seems to have gone so quickly and yet we have done so much. Xiamen is a great city and if not for Mark and Tina we would never have visited. We will send M&T our Hong Kong exploits and they can decide if they are blog worthy.


Barb and Nancy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting closer to the end

Well it being TINA's birthday we thought we would take the time to pamper ourselves and in typical Tina fashion we started with a great lunch at the two sisters. Next stop was the tailors to get our new duds thank god, we were getting sick of the ones we had brought, everything fit great... made to measure and we walked out of there feeling like queens, but in a good way. Onward and upward which is very typical in china as they love their stairs (stairmaster anyone oops no need) next stop was the hair washing which I have to say is the most civilized thing going, you lie down no neck craning and then after copious amounts of massage and tender rubbing it's finished just when you were dozing off mmmmmmmmmmm very nice. Can't have clean hair and no mani pedi so off to the salon to get pampered yet again to a foot spa and nails no torture there like the last foot massage maybe we are just getting used to the way things are done here, I really think I could. Looking absolutely ravishing we get back to the apartment to get ready for dinner and some special surprise Tina has up her sleeve - we are going with her friend and sister YIH and I have a feeling its like something we have never experienced before ok ok now they are talking hush hush I am becoming a little dubious and Barb, as always, is up for a big surprise. We take a cab down a narrow ally no lights all very secretive and Yih says we have to enter from the back, shurely it's more contraband purses or faux whatevers, but no its a club where the woman (us) get to pick from several lines of men (them) for party time - well no one was more surprised than me. The boys were very young and very scared and for anyone that has been here unsure of what these laowai ladies might ask of them and me still dumbfounded was too. We proceeded to drink watered down vodka and play drinking games which was fun, oh did I mention only one of them spoke English but we did learn some fun games and had a global fun time. All too soon 2:45 and it was time to leave and here is where it can be very expensive if you wanted the games to continue (SHALL WE SAY) you had to pay more at that point the jig was up and we let the guys off the hook with a chuckle as our intention only ever was to drink and play games but you know when in Rome... I think Tina had a great time on her birthday as did Barb and I and look forward to a sleep in tomorrow.