Zhongshan, Macau, Hong Kong & Guangzhou 2015

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Going back to China and visiting relatives is something that we usually do every second year, but because we didn't end up going in 2014 (the last time we went was 2012), we decided to go in 2015 instead. We were there for almost 4 weeks—from 13 January to 8 February 2015. We flew with China Southern Airlines, and I have to say that out of all the times I've flown, Airbus A380 has the best in-flight entertainment system so far due to its good movie selection—I even managed to watch a couple of Chinese movies I've been meaning to watch. The plane food was decent—nothing spectacular, but nothing too terrible. ★Tip: If you're flying economy, try to sit in the upper deck because it gives you a bit more space.

For this trip, I decided to part with my Canon EOS 500D and opt for a lighter and smaller, but just as powerful alternative: the Olympus PEN E-PL7, which I ordered all the way from Japan because Australia doesn't stock the white version. #likewhy #raisesfists

Zhongshan (中山)

While Zhongshan is a city that I've become familiar with over the years because it's my parents' hometown, there's really not much to do there (or worth staying for an extended period of time). I totally regret spending 2 entire weeks in Zhongshan because we could've used our time more wisely and visited somewhere we've never been before.

However, during the time we were there, we did manage to do some things that I've never done before, like going strawberry picking for the first time—which was a lot of fun. We even managed to successfully climb the tallest mountain in Zhongshan, called Dajian Mountain (大尖山), which took us almost 2 hours. Despite the fact that we were wearing the wrong gear and carrying unnecessary belongings, it was a still good hike and workout nonetheless.

What I enjoyed the most was getting to experience a different type of hot pot, roughly translated as "steam hot pot" (蒸氣火鍋), where food is cooked by steam and then eaten as is or with a little bit of soy sauce on the side. The idea of this steaming method is to allow the juices from the meat, vegetables and seafood to drip through the flat colander and onto the uncooked rice (that was previously placed at the bottom in a saucepan) to make congee. It was seriously one of the best meals we had on our trip because not only did the food taste good, it was healthy as well. But other than that, it was hard eating out, and everytime my sister and I would order steamed (or boiled) vegetables for dinner, we would have to tell them specifically "no oil and no soy sauce". We get the same confused looks everytime when we make this request. (Sigh.)

Macau (澳門)

We went to Macau twice during this trip and spent most of our time in Senado Square (議事亭前地) or what is commonly known as "The Fountain" (噴水池). The Square is one of the city's main shopping districts and is our most favourite place to hang around in Macau. Not only do they have many clothing and beauty stores like Bossini and Sasa (莎莎), there you will also find a lot of food stalls and small restaurants that sell local specialties like the famous pork chop bun (豬扒包) and the classic Portuguese tarts (葡撻).

For anyone with a sweet tooth and a health-conscious lifestyle, I highly recommend going to "Lady Fa's Anti-aging Grinding Workshop" (發嫂養生磨房), a small dessert shop located near St. Dominic's Church (玫瑰堂) in Senado Square. Their dishes are not overly sweet and they use real medicinal materials to make desserts like black sesame soup (芝麻糊), walnut soup (核桃糊), and turtle jelly (龜苓膏). Since Macau is often described as the "Las Vegas of the East", we also visited the Wynn Macau and The Venetian briefly during our stay.

Hong Kong (香港)

Although I'm been to Hong Kong a few times already, we've only been to places mostly around the Yuen Long District (元朗區) because we have family friends who live in that area. However, for this trip, we stayed in a more bustling area of the city: Mongkok (旺角)—one of the Hong Kong's major shopping destinations. We stayed at the Langham Place Hotel, which is conveniently located in a heart of Kowloon (九龍) so we were able to simply step out of the hotel and walk around streets at night where it was still bright, well-lit and populated. Hong Kong is vibrant city full of culture, creativity and character—and with a buzzing nightlife and great food, I'm really glad we didn't stay for one night only.

We originally wanted to try "添好運" (Tim Ho Wan), aka the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, but we didn't end up going because we ran out of time. (Now it's coming to Sydney!) However, we did stumble upon "Ming Court" in our hotel, which is a 2-starred restaurant serving contemporary Chinese cuisine. We didn't order anything fancy, just yumcha—yes, yumcha. (I mean, out of all places!) No doubt I felt like a peasant eating at such a high class restaurant, but it was a great dining experience nonetheless. Not only was the food really good, they also served us the prettiest dessert I've ever seen! It was the mango and red date pudding swamped with dry ice—I made a GIF because a still photo does not do it justice.

The skyline of the city from Victoria Peak (太平山) at night was absolutely breathtaking. The bad thing was that it took us almost 2-3 hours just to go down the mountain when we only spent about half an hour at the top. (I'll probably do the day hike next time!) Finally, a shout out to the Hong Kong MTR for being so convenient and so easy to navigate. Not only are the transit lines colour-coded, the direction arrows lead you directly to the place you need to be.

Guangzhou (廣州)

We originally planned to go to Shanghai for a week but we couldn't decide on a tour to join, so we went to Guangzhou for 2D1N trip instead. But given the short time we had, we only visited the Beijing Road Shopping District (北京路步行街), and a few sections of Zhongshan Road (中山路). However, the highlight was definitely the view of the new Guangzhou skyline with the Canton Tower (廣州塔) and Zhujiang New Town (珠江新城) in the foreground. The place we went to see that was Huacheng Plaza (花城廣場), which is beautifully lined with many other impressive architectural buildings, such as the Guangzhou Library (廣州圖書館), the Guangzhou International Finance Centre (廣州國際金融中心), and the Guangdong Olympic Stadium (廣東奧林匹克體育中心), the stadium for the 2010 Asian Games' ceremonies.

We stayed at the Rosedale Hotel and the room we got was okay—the biggest one we got so far on this trip—but the bathrooms (we got two actually) weren't very clean. Although the trip itself was a short one—especially when you're spending half the time eating and waiting around with relatives—it was a pretty good introduction to what the city has to offer :) Till next time!



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