Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hangzhou/Shanghai Trip

My brief write up on my 5D 4N Hangzhou/Shanghai trip during this month school holidays.It was a family trip together with my father.Initially I planned to travel on our own but after taking into consideration that I do not speak Mandarin,welfare of my 3 young kids and my elderly father and many notorious stories about Chinese people in China,I decided to choose the easy way out....join a tour group. Arrived in Hangzhou Airport at noon.Greeted by a small cute dog at the luggage collection area.This dog is supposed to be trained in detecting illegal items (I presumed).I was curious and was looking out for its success rate in detecting illegal items.Once he got excited over a bag,a police personnel will ask the owner of the bag to open it for inspection.From what I observed,this dog is a failure!!!All the bags which were opened for inspection turn out to be negative.I wondered how they trained this dog??!! Our flight arrived punctually but not our tour guide.He was supposed to hold on to a board with my name on it.I was a bit worried when I didn't see one.I waited at the arrival hall and no one approaches me.My father decided to ask some tour guides nearby.They showed me how to call my tour guide.
Finally this young man came.He was late because he brought another group to visit the tea plantation in Hangzhou.He can speaks a bit of English but he choose not to.He is a very patriotic person.He is proud of China (talk of how great and powerful China is),the Chinese language(no need to learn/speak English...even the foreigners are coming to China to learn Mandarin),anti Japanese sentiments(earthquake and tsunami is a punishment for Japanese brutality in slaughtering the Chinese during World War 2,how Japanese sold lower grade cars to Chinese people,why Japanese who is holidaying in China won't dare to visit Nanjing etc).If I knew Mandarin well,sure I am going to "debate" with him on his certain controversial views.Too bad...I can't speak Mandarin but able to understand the simple Mandarin.

Visited a historical site.Don't know what is the history behind the site.The guide was seen describing the significant of some poems engraved on a piece of stone.Everyone was listening.Wonder if he is telling them the correct informations.Ha...ha..ha...

Part of a mansion which we visited.There is a history in this mansion.Again I am lost.So are my children and my wife.Probably my father can understand the story and history in this mansion.I think one needs to know some history of China if one intends to visit China otherwise he just come to admire the scenery,just like me.

Traffic in China....daring and stubborn drivers who refused to give way.The drivers will come near to each others.The cyclists also risk their life when using the road.No bicycle or motorcyclists lane?According to the tour guide,visitors to China have to learn to look out and avoid on coming cars.Cars will not stop for pedestrians.

Suzhou Time Square.....for us to "admired"some LED shows screen on the wall.Nothing great or special.The show was over in less than 5 minutes.I was busy buying hot drinks for my children when the show started.Didn't managed to see it but was told it was only some advertisements shown on large LED screen.Felt stupid for being brought there to view some advertisements...

Brought to some night streets for shopping.Was told this shop is famous for its snacks and light foods.We have been pre-warn:No tasting or sampling allowed.Since it was not very expensive,we bought some to try.Nothing special.

They will do anything to please the tourists....for the money.Imagine this strong lady who rowed a boat with 10 passengers in it,rowing and singing for us.Of course we have to give her tips...for her effort.You can find many of this type of person around.We had one who started to sing and played some Chinese instrument while we were having our lunch.Once we pay him ,he quickly disappeared.
This place is called The Couple's Garden Retreat which is surrounded by canals and listed in the World Heritage List in 2000.It is better to know the history in order to appreciate what we see here.

This is what I don't like about following a tour group for holiday.We were bought to many places for shopping.Seen in the picture above:The Wuxi tour guide was seen "poisoning"my wife mind on jewellery and pearls.I told my wife not to listen too much but she couldn't resist the temptations.I ended up a few thousand ringgit poorer during this stop!!Just can't understand why ladies need to shop and buy so badly.Next holiday will be on my more following tour groups.
Another shopping stop!!this time is for the Suzhou silk.Aiyo.....we were supposed to go for holidays and sight seeing but it ended up like a shopping trip.Again,unnecessary money was spent in this outlet.I was told by other members of the group,this shopping stops are a norm during China trips.I wonder why many still faithfully follow this kind of tour holidays.Probably this kind of tour is cheap and convenient to those who are not the adventurous type.I personally think this kind of shopping stops are a total waste of time.

Too many visits to lakes, canals and boat rides.It was fun on the first visit and ride but I was getting bored after 4 rides throughout this trip.It's the same:water,lakes,canals and boats.However the story and history behind each site is different.

March is supposed to be spring time but the weather was still very cold.The temperature ranged from 4 Celsius to 14 Celsius.It was cold to me.My elderly father was unable to bear the night cold weather.His hands were trembling.

Our hotel:I was told it is a local 4 stars hotel.I wonder how China rated their hotel.It was definitely not a 4 stars hotel as compared to our local 4 stars hotels.Some of the rooms were smelly.The breakfast was terrible.

Upon entering Shanghai by using the highway,I was curious to see many people standing in the middle of the road immediately after the toll plaza.What were they doing?I was told they are offering themselves as a guide to motorist coming into Shanghai.Since Shanghai is so big,these people will board any cars who are willing to pay them to guide anyone around Shanghai massive and complicated road systems.Wonder why the authority allow these people to soliciting business in the middle of a busy highway.

Nice big and sweet strawberry.Relatively quite cheap.Price ranges from RMB10-20 per big bowl.Eat quite a lot of these during the trip.Later I wonder if these are genuine strawberry.The Chinese are so good in making fake items.They even make fake eggs!!

Nice place for people watching and so many shops selling variety of things.A "happening"place but the tour guide only allowed us to spend one hour here!!This is the disadvantage of joining a tour group,we are only allow to spend little time in the major nice tourist spots but we are allow unlimited time in certain shops chosen by the tour guide.Seems like the tour guide received certain amount of commission from our purchases in certain shops.

Interesting...what are they watching??

Bund sightseeing tunnel-did not managed to go in but I was told it is not worth the money.There is a underground connection to the other side of the river.

Family photo taken at The Bund.Jacyntha,my youngest daughter wasn't in her good mood and reluctant to pose for pictures.My children and I were wearing those jackets which I bought in Hong Kong during my last marathon trip.They even have photographers waiting to take pictures for us and later sold to us the hard copies in some souvenirs booklets the next day for RMB 130.See how good is the networking among the Chinese guides.

Night life in Nanjing Road.Massive crowd of people and so many shops for us to spend our money.However not much time was spent here as the guide was rushing us to see the acrobatics show.This was where a Chinese lady approaches me asking if I was interested in massage.Few others wanted to sell me handbags and CDs (all probably fakes)

Acrobatics show in Shanghai.Only foreigners attended this show.Seen many buses of foreigners especially from India.It was a full house.The show was from 8.00pm to 9.00pm.Quite nice and entertaining even though I have seen this before.

Night scenery taken during the Huangpu River cruise looking at bright beautifully lit building in Shanghai.It reminds me of the same scenery in Hong Kong.We took the last cruise.It was a very cold night.The cruise ended at about 10.30pm and by then most of the lights were shut off.

Another shopping stop....this is a knife outlet.This guy was telling us how good was their knife.Blahh..blahh...blahhh.Just buy and off we go.

Why must we go to Tong Ren Tang aka local TCM..traditional Chinese medicine centers.?We were brief on the goodness of TCM by some guys wearing lab coats who introduced themselves as "PROFESSOR".Ha..ha...ha....Got free consultations.The "professor" took my pulse and touch my hand and declared that I am healthy.Oh?...I thought they wanted me to buy their traditional medicines?

Professor:"you are healthy.No sickness".

He then wanted to move away to another person.I wanted to test him.I asked him through an interpreter (the center has interpreter for those who don't speak Mandarin....see how efficient the way they do business)

Myself:No sickness?(I sounded a bit sceptical)

Professor:Your hand is cold.

Myself:What about cold hand?(The weather was cold and without gloves,sure our hands were cold)

Professor:Cold hands...weak poor sexual health.


My wife and I were laughing after hearing his statement and he just walked off!!

Beautiful scenery at the West Lake.The weather was good on that day.Came across few couples having their wedding pictures taken around the lake.

Another scenic spot...

Nice place to visit for couples.Very romantic place.One day I may come back again to this West Lake,maybe I can do a long run around this West Lake.

Nice scenery...need to be there to appreciate it.It was the weekend and there were many young couples visiting West Lake.Hangzhou is portray as a capital of love and leisure...from what I read in some tourist brochure.
This place is described as an earthly paradise where one needs to do nothing but to take a walk in the scenic village path,breathe the fresh tea aroma in the green woods and listen to the moving love stories beside the West Lake.
Seen many people selling ballons.There is a love shaped smaller balloon inside the bigger one.

Very intersting and nice show:Night of West Lake.I like it.Very enjoyable.It was a live musical.Highly recommended to see.The show presents the culture of West Lake by four acts -The King Reviewing the soldiers,The properous Qiantang,Butterfly Lovers and Moulin Rouge.

This is an hour show from 8pm to 9pm.It was a sold out on that night. Later the guide told me there is another show better than this.Uhh...??

Murder in the street of Hangzhou!!I was walking along a street of Hangzhou when I noticed a lady worker scooping out big fishes from aquarium and started to slam the fish on the ground watched by her supervisor (in the dark coat).Very cruel way to kill the fish in the public.I recorded this footage on my webcam.

The best food served during the entire trip.If this was the best foods,can you imagine what was served to us during the rest of the trip?The foods were mostly too salty.There was quantity but there definitely no quality.The worst was the breakfast served at the hotels.The coffee was just some black coloured water.No smell or taste of coffee!

Overall this trip was not fun.There are many places which we did not have the chance to go....Places of interest in Shanghai and Hangzhou.The stop in West Lake was too short.

This holiday wasn't good because:

1)Maybe personally I am a bit negative and biased toward China.I have heard too many negative feedback from tourists returning from China trips.

2)Lacking of knowledge on China history and unable to understand Mandarin are another barrier.

3)The holiday mood was not there.My mind was more preoccupied with my final examination.

4)I had to fly back earlier for my examination leaving behind my wife to look after the 3 kids and my father.They came back a day later.

From this trip,I can see the progress in China with my own eyes.They are very modern and many of them appeared to be very rich.The country is very big with massive crowd of people everywhere.

In the future,I will travel again to China but the next time,I will go on my own without following those "shopping tours".

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I am Back..

I have been "missing"for the past 3 weeks.There wasn't any update in my blog.There were too many things happening for the past 3 weeks which kept me fully occupied.Now that everything is clear,I am now in a better mood to update my blog.

The main distraction for the past 3 weeks was getting myself ready to sit for my final examination for the Diploma in Family Medicine which was on 20th March.I have to adjust my time to do some revisions in between of my long working hours.By the end of the day,I was mentally tired.

When the mind is exhausted,the body become tired too.The urge to run was totally gone.There wasn't any training except for a 10km run around Rasah Kemayan early this month with Lau and Yee.

Then my holiday plan to Shanghai was briefly disrupted by some issues with the tour agency.This kept me worrying for few days as it was too late for me to readjust my tour itinerary and to do "homework" for self travelling.On top of that I have to consider the potential problems that may arise in taking care of my 3 kids and my 80 years old father who is following me on this trip.

Now that we are back from Shanghai safely and I have finished my examination 2 days ago,I can feel more relax now.

Looks like it is time to bring out my running shoes again and start training for the Energizer Night Marathon which is 3 weeks from now.Maybe too late...then, let's train for Standard Chartered KL Marathon!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bukit Kepayang Blossom Run

Race:Bukit Kepayang Blossom Run
Place:Seremban 2
Date:27th Feb 2011

This was a rare running event organised by politician party-DAP in Seremban.I was informed of this run by my lawyer friend Nicole Tan who is also an active DAP member.So decided to show some support to my friend and also to DAP by paying RM12 to join this run although I was not free to run on that day.

The application form stated 6:45am as the race time but when I reached Oakland Commercial Center in Seremban 2 at 6:40am,there wasn't many runners.I met up with Teh who informed me the run would only start at 7:30am!!"Malaysian Time".Why the last minute change??

Many DAP flags:looks like a political talks going on.This run is organised in conjunction with the 45 years anniversary of Rahang by election which was won by Dr.Chen Man Hin .He used the Blossom logo then.

Lucky there wasn't any speech by politicians or YBs.The event started with a warm up session
Race was flagged off by veteran DAP adviser Dr.Chen Man Hin.

The route was a simple mostly flat route except the road leading towards Rasah Kemayan.We used to run part of this route on Sunday or during our long runs.

Motorcyclists with DAP flags waiting for the start of the run.They were supposed to lead the way for the fast runners.

Even the ADUN for Bukit Kepayang,Cha Kee Chin (the guy seen pointing in the picture) was seen taking part in the 11km run.Bravo YB for leading a healthy lifestyle.We don't want sick overweight YBs.More importantly,we don't want frequent by elections!A waste of public fund. Ha..ha..ha..

I waited until 7:30am for all the events to start before going home.Got to go to work.Later I was informed that Lau managed to finish in 8th placing in the veteran group and got himself RM50.Way to go Lau!!Got a PB in Hong Kong last week and still managed to win some prize on that day.
Few of the ladies from our group also won some prize money in the veteran category.
Congratulations to all!!