This was my second visit to Qibao (my first visit back in July 2010). Located right off metro line 9, the ancient water town of Qibao is a great (and easy) visit from downtown Shanghai.
Besides the iconic views, the next most appealing thing to me are the 2元 (0.25€) and 10元 (1.24€) shops, where everything inside is that price. Second would easily have to be the food stalls, carrying everything from freshly-made banana bread and steamed dumplings to fried crickets and other things I couldn’t quite recognize.
The island of Bali has much more to offer than just beaches… some beautiful forest/jungle type deals, not to mention some incredible insects.
We had rented a motorcycle the night before with the intent of making a trip into the island of Borneo. Since I was a young kid I had always heard of the mystical creatures and plants that grew on this tropical island. Of course a day-trip into just a piece of the island is never enough, and I was a little disappointed to go away not seeing a rafflesia in full bloom (which is trickier than I thought). It is the largest flower on the planet and is supposed to smell like rotting flesh, which is also why it is known as the “corpse flower.” We talked to some local farmers and were shown some wild buds, but since they take many months to mature, then only bloom for a couple weeks, and are worth a small fortune (+4,000 USD), many are stolen or are sold-off before maturing.
Either way, we snaked ourselves around the impressive Mount Kinabalu, passing the Tamparuli Suspension Bridge and headed into the natural reserve to have a short hike up the mountain. Climbing back onto the beastly 4-gear bike, we directed ourselves inland once again visiting hot springs, waterfalls and of course plenty of jungle.
It was incredibly hot during the morning and day, but since the dramatic changes in altitude I had read to bring along a sweater, which I reluctantly did… but thankfully I did, because as soon as the sun started setting it got pretty cold up there, especially going downhill on a motorcycle!
Arriving back in the town of KK that night, after a day of riding almost 300km of mountain roads, we retired back to the restaurant we had eaten at the night before. A great market-type deal located next to the fishing port, I couldn’t recommend it more. A collection of severalteen restaurants clustered together under tents right next to where the fishermen come back and unload their fresh catches. I kid you not, I had one of the most amazing dishes of my life here… buttered and battered prawns. A light and crunchy batter that I can hardly describe in any terms other than simply amazing. The mango and avocado shakes are pretty refreshing too!
Some daytime shots around Suzhou… a boat trip down the canals and a visit to one of the famous ancient gardens (forgot the name, ha!). Check out the last pic below to see the fullframe version of the pic above… quite amusing!
ps- Thailand pics coming next!
We flew from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Da Nang, and then a short 30min drive to the town of Hoi An…… a slightly touristy, but extrememly beauitful town. The center of the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and thus historically preserved… the first night we took some bicycles into the town center, which is where I captured these.
Afterwards, we had some beers at Treat’s Bar for 10,000 VND a bottle… and if that isn’t a reason to come back, I don’t know what is.
During the Chinese New Year holiday we hit up Gao Qiao, located on the northern tip of Pudong, just over an hour north via subway from downtown Shanghai. Our mission was “Holland Village,” a residential complex built by Dutch architects to reflect living in Holland which is part of the “1 City – 9 Towns” initiative. On the 20min walk from the metro station to this new town, we were fortunate to follow along a picturesque, and relatively traditional Chinese street.
A one hour drive east of Shanghai (map) is Zhouzhuang, the “Venice of the East” (although they call a hand-full of other towns the same thing). So, now I’ve been to the Venice of the East, the Venice of the North (Bruges, Belgium), the other Venice of the North (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Venice Beach (California), and of course, the Venice.
Last weekend, my company had a team-building workshop near this picturesque ancient town (over two and half centuries worth), so the night before I decided to head into the old town and snap some flix…
So I finally got my first taste of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, which opened back on May 1, and runs until the end of October. Took a weekday night ticket, in the rain, and there were still massive crowds (June 24th: 447,100 visitors)… I can only imagine what it’s like on a sunny weekend.
“Better City, Better Life” is the motto, and the site itself is MASSIVE (interactive map). This first trip was only through [part of] Zone C which houses most of the European Pavilions as well as Canada, US, and Africa. And to say the Expo has transformed Shanghai city life is quite the understatement:
- 41 billion US dollars were spent on preparations (more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics);
- 18,000 families & 270 factories were relocated;
- 190+ nations and 50+ world organizations taking part (largest ever);
- Expo site covers 5.28 km², also the largest in Expo history (which equals about 987 football fields including endzones);
- 10,000+ new Shanghai taxis;
- 6 new metro lines;
- 1.7 million volunteers were trained specifically for Expo help;
- 70-100 million visitors are expected to pass through the gates;
- metal detectors (nuisance!) in every subway station throughout Shanghai;
The image above (UK Pavilion) is just a taste of the CRAZYNESS that is to come, I took 397 images and am still working through them, so check back soon as I will be updating them below!