Beijing, China

Beijing the political, economic, and cultural center of China.

I didn’t intend on blogging about this trip. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy my time here, I did. This was the one trip where I focused more about taking in everything that I see, as oppose to trying to hit all of the must see tourist attractions. My intention for this trip was really just to see Beijing and to visit one of my closest friend from home who spending a semester in Beijing. All I have to say is that the air quality sucked and it’s probably the least English friendly city, but I am enamored by the depths of history that lies across this city.

Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is a must see if you are ever in Beijing, it was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of Qing dynasty. It is also where the Tiananmen Square and the Palace Museum is located. It’s crazy to think about the events and history that has taken place on these very grounds I’ve step foot on.

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Singapore

Singapore is truly a global financial center, as well as the central network that connects all of southeast Asia together.

Day 1: Fly to Singapore, Chinatown
Singapore is a 4 hour plane ride from Hong Kong. Our flight was pretty early in the morning, but we got to Singapore in the afternoon. Once we got through immigration, we took the MRT (Singapore’s Metro System) from the airport, which basically connects us to the closest train station by the hotel we were staying in. We stayed at Four Point by Sheraton, which was pretty affordable and pleasant stay. (Note: There was a Handy cellphone available in the room for us to bring out and use with data and local attractions to check out.) Once we dropped off our bags in the room, and freshened up from our plane ride here, we headed over to Chinatown to explore.

We had lunch over at Chir Chir, a Korean Fried Chicken shop located in Chinatown Point. We ordered a Piña Colada drink which came with a strawberry daiquiri syrup on the bottom, the Garlicky Chicken, and a spicy sweet glaze chicken.

After lunch, we continued walking around Chinatown, which led us to the Sri Mariamman Temple.

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Sri Mariamman Temple

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Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is a modern metropolis with Japanese colonial influences, popular night markets, and busy shopping streets.

Day 1: Fly to Taiwan, The National Palace Museum
Once we arrived at Taoyuan International Airport, we requested an Uber to Hotel Papa Whale, the hotel we stayed in for the trip. Our first stop was the National Palace Museum, where it has the permanent collection of thousands of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks.

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We wanted to go inside to see the artwork, but it was closing early since it was Chinese New Year Eve. So we left the museum, and tried to walk around the city before dinner. We wanted to check out Shilin Market, which is a popular night market, with tons of street food. To our disappointment, it was like the zombie apocalypse when we got there, since everyone was home celebrating with their friends and family for the new year that is coming. We headed back to our hotel, but we stopped by Ximen Night Market which was up and alive. We tried their famous fried chicken bites, egg-scallion pancake, dumplings, and of course bubble tea.

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Weekend in Macau

“The Las Vegas of Asia”

Macau (澳門) was once administered by the Portuguese Empire from the mid-16th century till 1999. It was transferred over to China in 1999, but they operate their own governmental policies (apart from military defense). Macau has since transformed it’s city to a gambling and tourism destination in Asia.

How to get there: I took the Cotai Water Jet ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Macau, which only took about an hour to get there. It was about $355 HKD (~$45 USD) for roundtrip tickets.

Transportation: Once my friends and I went through the Macau boarders, there coach buses from different hotels at the entrance of the ferry terminal. The coach buses are completely free, since the hotels here actually want people to go to their casinos to gamble.

Where did we stay: We made reservations to stay at the beautiful Sheraton Grand Macau, located in Cotai where most of the hotels and casinos are located. It is very similar to the strip in Las Vegas, but it’s definitely not as crowded or wild.  Like any of the hotels in Macau or Las Vegas, it houses some of the biggest designer brand shops. Once we checked into the hotel, we made our way to the Macau side of the island.

We took one of the hotel shuttle to the other side of the island and transferred to another bus to get us to Senado Square. As you walk through Senado Square, there is a pathway with a lot of souvenir shops with pork/beef jerky and almond cookies you can sample as you make your way to the Ruins of St. Paul’s.

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Ruins of St. Paul’s
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A Day on Lantau Island

Lantau Island (大嶼山) is the largest island on Hong Kong, which is adjacent to the Hong Kong International Airport. It is also the home to Tian Tian Buddha and Tai O, both popular tourist attractions.

My friends and I left campus around 8:30 am and arrived at Prince Edward Station to meet up with my mom and a few of her friends before heading to Lantau Island. We took the red line on the MTR from Prince Edward to Lai King Station, then we transferred to the yellow line and got off at Tung Chung. There are two ways you can get up to Ngong Ping Village where the Buddha is located: the bus or the cable cars. We decided to get a one way trip on the standard cable car which was $130.00 HKD. (I would’ve preferred to take the Crystal Cabin, which has a clear glass bottom, but my mother is acrophobic.)

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