Exploring a Hutong in Beijing

One evening in Beijing, my tour group had supper at a family home located in a hutong. A hutong is an old residential neighborhood.  Many were bulldozed in the name of progress and replaced with skyscrapers, but apparently, the Chinese government put a stop to it in order to preserve those that remain. This was an opportunity to see a private home, and get away from the bland meals served by the restaurants that catered to tour groups, even if it was only for one evening.

To get there, we took an old mode of transportation: a rickshaw. There was at least a dozen of them lined up along a wide street waiting for passengers and we would need all of them for our group. The drivers happily helped us climb in and when everyone was seated and photos taken, the rickshaws rolled out one after the other, like a wagon train rumbling across a frontier.  Continue reading

A Matter of Language: Chinglish Signs

Language was definitely an issue for me in China. When sales people started talking to me in Mandarin, I’d stop them and ask if they spoke English. Luckily, there would be another customer close by who stepped forward to translate. So being a Chinese in China who couldn’t speak the local language, I found some local signs amusing, even if it was just a typo. My favorite is the last one. Continue reading

Light Show on The Bund, Shanghai

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One of the highlights of my trip to China in October was Shanghai. With a population of over 24 million, it is three times bigger than New York. If you combine Shanghai’s population with the 8 million who inhabit the city of Suzhou which is just two hours away, it almost equals Canada’s population which is just over 36 million.

Shanghai rivals New York City in razzle dazzle. Every evening from 6p.m. to 10p.m., it puts on a light show along The Bund that highlights the old and the new sides of the city. Here’s a short 2 minute video that I put together. It doesn’t do it justice, but I hope you enjoy it.

10 Tips for Travelling in China

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I went on a group tour of seven cities in China in October which is considered an ideal time to go. There were so many things to consider in preparation for the trip, the main one being what to wear as the tour started in the north in Beijing where the temperature was supposed to be about 12C to Guilin in the south where it should have been around 20C. During the trip, we learned that the weather forecast was, as our tour guide put it, “just a suggestion”. I packed long sleeve t-shirts and a jacket for Beijing’s cold weather forecast and ended up wearing short sleeve t-shirts as the days were hot and sunny. Elsewhere, cloudy forecasts turned out to be either drizzle or heavy rain. Rainy forecasts in the south were hot, humid days instead. I regretted not bringing a pair of shorts, but when we returned to Beijing for the flight home, the temperature had dropped to 7C.

So if you’re planning a trip to China, here are a few tips to help make your trip more comfortable: Continue reading

Cave Painting at Ice Hotel

The Ice Hotel : Definitely a Winter Destination

In the photo above, I’m standing before one of the many amazing murals found in the Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel). My friends and I made the three hour drive to Quebec City on Saturday to see it.

We were well dressed to spend hours wandering the cold, frigid corridors: long underwear, layers of sweaters, scarves, snow pants, and one of my friends even put an extra warm insole in her boots.  It was a good thing too because it was colder inside the hotel than it was outside which was minus 11 Celsius. Continue reading