Tag Archives: what to do

China Beijing: Travel Tips

I really like Beijing for a few days. I reckon the perfect things to do there are:

Stay in a great hotel! Beijing is cheap with  heaps of 5 star hotels virtually empty, so you can get a great rate and it will take your mind off the pollution. Go on treat yourself – you deserve it. We stayed at the Sofitel Wanda.

Eat fabulous food! including a Beijing duck, you must go to Da Dong. It’s a fantastic yummy restaurant. Try to book a table around the fish ponds and duck ovens. We had duck, delicious vegetarian dishes, champagne and cute deserts that looked like dandelions and it all came to under $60 U.S. That’s another bonus about visiting China: the food is great and cheap so, you can live like kings on workers wages. Do some web research and find other restaurants to go to before you get there. The link I made for Da Dong, has other great global and Beijing restaurants in it too. Time Out  is another good resource.

Walk the wall. Stay at the Commune By The Great Wall  for at least a  night if you have time. They have a shuttle that can pick you up from town. They have yummy, delectable restaurants, Chinese and western. The rooms are pretty cool and they have a private access to the wall. They will organize a picnic for you and you can go early morning and use it as your step work-out. The Aman in Beijing is really nice too if you have more money to splash around. Otherwise beware, if you do an organised wall trip: there are millions of tourists traipsing it. We passed  sections of it that looked more like a trip from hell covered in people looking like ants, rather than the fun experience it should be! At the Commune, you will find no one, just you and the  lonely stone steps and you will find your mind tripping off into fantasies of history.

798 Art District is a mustDashanzi 798 Art District. Even if you are not that interested in art, it’s fascinating to see the old working factory area blended together with new art galleries, shops and  quirky cafes. There’s heaps to do,  look at one art gallery after the other, do some shopping and buy unique alternatives gifts, have lunch… Great for a whole morning or afternoon.

Silk Market. If you have time, go and buy some funky pearls. I love the ones that are huge and colored. Make sure you bargain. Start by cutting the price in half. It is so cheap your going to be jumping with joy with your new found treasures.

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A Great Holiday Destination On A Heavenly Fiji Island: Taveuni

I’ve traveled to a a lot of places in the world and now: Taveuni in Fiji is one of my favorite destinations. It’s heaven on earth. When I research  for a holiday it normally takes me a couple of weeks: going on  the internet, finding chat lines, falling down internet-worm-holes, contacting my global crew of friends for tips…  and this time the info I kept getting was:  “Go to Fiji and if you go, make sure you get off the main island. Go to an outa island and  see the real Fiji.” Taveuni, the garden Island kept flashing up again as the place to go.

So, I rented a cute house with a pool (that didn’t cost a fortune) Villa Sekoula, but you can find other accommodation here.

Here are some pictures from my holiday.

Bulla, our helper in the house will take you into town to buy food which she will then cook. This fresh fish was about $5. We found eating in restaurants in Fiji really expensive for a family of four, so Bulla cooked at home for us (  cooking included with the house rental).

Below was a market stall in town to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Everybody grows their own vegetables in Taveuni; it looked like people popped into town to sell their extras.

There was so much to do in Taveuni  apart from sitting on a beach. There were so many magical waterfalls to visit and – no one was there! Below is a couple of pictures. The bottom picture is a natural rock-slide that falls into another waterfall filled with other happy little fish. (Make sure you get a guide that will show you how to navigate the slides and jump into the pools.) Cino helped us out and  he was a good taxi driver too. TEL: 9846899.

Things to do:

1. Bouma Falls: Spend a morning here. Unless you’re geriatric – walk up to all three waterfalls. Take snacks and water as by the time you get to the third waterfall,  you’ll need to munch on something to replenish your energy  to get back down. Maria ( who works in the office where you buy a ticket to see the waterfalls) can prepare you a great lunch positioned by a river for your return. Here is her number : 78507113/78204709  (Maria  has 8 boys and doesn’t earn a lot of money so if you have any spare second hand boys clothes, takes them with you and give them to her as a gift: she will be even happier to see you.)

2. Wairiki Mission: If you are on Taveuni on a Sunday – this is a must! I’m not religious but sitting crossed legged on the church floor listening to everyone  singing stunning a cappella hymns,  was a truly a religious moment. Near here is the International dateline marker. A dateline cuts right through Fiji. To make life easier though – they have put Fiji, all on one time. If you go, it is the only place in the world where you can place one foot in yesterday and one in today.

3. Lavena Coastal walk: You walk through a local village, along a stunning coast line and arrive at another magical waterfall. You have to  swim up a shallow river to get to it. Take a guide, they will show you how to jump into the waterfall and maneuver your way onto another, natural, stone water-slide. Take a snack, get your guide to bring a fresh coconut to share. Another thing you can do from here is take a boat or canoe  up the coast to view more waterfalls.

There are heaps of other things to do too and I wished we had spent two weeks there instead of 8 days. You can go horse riding, diving and pick a sacred flower: The Tagimoucia. They grows in only two places on the planet, Taveuni and a mountain top in Nepal. If you are taking small kids to Taveuni check out this website: Fiji magic. They have great stories about Fiji, personally I would print them out and use them as bed time tales.

Below pictures of:Wairiki Mission & the inside of Villa Sekoula and the view from the villa’s lounge.

Villa Sekoula is in Matei (north of the island). It’s a great village, super chilled. It has good snorkeling just off the coast and on the 2nd and 3rd Islands nearby. Our house came with kayaks so we would kayak and snorkel around the islands at leisure. If your looking for huge white sandy beaches, this isn’t the beach area for you. I met a tourist who raved about the Mananuca Islands as they had those kind of beaches.

And what made this place extra special? The people!  Below is a policeman! Also pictures of: houses in the local village and Seppo who cleaned our pool at the house and  then turned up on the last night to make us a Lovo ( special meal cooked in the ground). His friends then arrived and we drank kava sitting on a straw mat on the floor,  whilst they all sung and played music till midnight.

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Hong Kong Tourist Tip: Shop and Walk Though the #Hong Kong Kowloon Markets

Spend a day walking around Hong Kong, in the Kowloon markets. It’s easy to do with children and old people too, as if the grommets or oldies get exhausted, there are MTR stops all along the way – so you can go home whenever you want.

I’ve attached a good picture map below worth downloading. Just follow the pink dots on it for a good walking tour and you could look at my video on my You Tube Channel to see what it’s like too.

If you leave home by 9a.m. and cruise, you will be able to shop till you drop, have some lunch and be home by  4p.m.  You will see: The Flower Market,  The Bird Market, The Fish Market, The ladies Market, The Jade Market and Kitchen Street.

TIP: haggle well in the ladies and Jade market (actually haggle well in all of them). A necklace, they offer you in the Jade Market for $200 HK is often is only $50 HK.

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Vietnam Beaches in the South: Nha Trang, Jungle Beach and Wild Beach Resort

If you want to go down south of Vietnam and fancy a chilled out beach holiday. Check out Jungle Beach Resort, in Ninh Phuoc Village, 40 Km from Nha Trang. Think Thailand twenty years ago, with backpacker huts on a quiet beach with no people. If you want to go for a bit more luxury, go next door to Wild Beach Resort. There you will find air-conditioning, hot showers, a pool, massage facilities and more comfortable beds.

We stayed at Jungle Beach for for Christmas 2010 and my daughter got a shock (after  living  in hotels for five years), but  it only took her one night and she went: feral, gave up showering, never put on her shoes again and loved the new and simple way of life. Jungle beach is really basic, next door Wild Beach is more civilized and we did think about moving there but we we all strangely were enjoying the simple life too much.  Things to do: hang on the beach, hang at the waterfall, walk up the mountains, go for mountain walks.

You can also easily hire a taxi, to go to Nha Trang for some  day or night entertainment too. Nha Trang is a busy built up beach with hotels all along it.

We stayed in Nha Trang for 4 nights, whilst we did some diving with Rainbow Divers  (they were great by the way) and our daughter got her Padi certification, but if your looking for peace and quite in the south of Vietnam – go Jungle, or Wild Beach.

How to get here: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City (stay there the night) or get a connecting flight to Nha Trang. From Nha Trang airport, get a taxi to Nha Trang  beach or if you stay at Jungle or Wild Beach they will organize a car  to collect you.

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Shanghai, Shopping, Tourist Things To Do: Go to the Eye Glass Market

Buy  your eyeglasses here, they are REALLY CHEEP! Make sure you bring your prescription, or they can check your eyes at the shop. The eye glass market here is massive, but I have attached Lisa’s card below ( in English and Chinese). I always go to her. Print it out and give it to a taxi, you will end up at a door, go in, find the lift and go up to the fourth floor. When you  find Lisa’s shop and if  you can’t find some frames you like: you really need your eyes tested!

To buy reading glasses they are about 100-1500 RMB  and if you want a really good name (??? know what I mean – 300 RMB).  They, also have prescription swimming goggels ( about 100 RMB about $15 US)  and  contact lenses in all colors ( about 70 RMB). Go wild, get  different glasses for each room of your house.

On the 3rd floor below the eye glass market is the wedding market… I will post on that later.

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Want to come and live in Shanghai?

My suggestion is,  to contact at least 5 real estate agents before you get here and get them to send you pictures of the kind of accommodation you would like to rent or buy. When you get here give yourself a week of back to back appointments to look at everything. Do it fast and furious – or it will make you go mental.

Interesting fact: in Shanghai, different real estate agents will have the same accommodation on their books, but at drastically different prices!

Send them an email with the below information: 

How many adults or kids you have.

How many bedrooms you want.

How many bathrooms.

If you want a garden or outdoor space.

Let them know  how many pets you have, goldfish you don’t need to include.

length of lease.

District  you are interested in.

When you go to view the properties make sure you:

Turn on taps and showers and check water pressure.

Look at windows. Trust me, you don’t want old drafty ones, because in winter it gets friggin cold.

Make sure there is oil wall-heaters, or floor heating ( not just silly radiators) and air-conditioning units in each room, it gets friggin hot here too.

Look for wood rot, damp, bugs. Look at the top of the ceilings, a place to spot for leaking roofs (I have seen quite a few dripping brown slime.)
If  the property comes furnished with beds – sit or jump on them. Some can be rocks and some instantly fall apart; you can ask for them to be changed.
Ask the agent
“What problems have your other tenants had with this house?” Amazingly, they will tell you.
Before you rent, it is normal to make requests like:
I want  the house to be re-painted, I want new curtains, take out that rubbish furniture and, “Can I have a budget for some new stuff ?” (There is no harm in asking…)
Also Ask: does the property come with any gym memberships, or parking or “Can I have a  dishwasher or washing machine?”
When I came to live here in Shanghai in August 2011, I contacted all the agents below and they were all good. I finally used Rachel ( she is  really sweet) and please don’t blame me if some of the emails don’t work anymore…
ceciproperty@hotmail
sunyin731@163.com
alex333333@yeah.net
Here, are also some other real estate agent websites. I found Joanna Real Estate, really good to get a clear idea of what is available all over Shanghai.
Houses and apartments can vary so much and the prices they charge, often make no sense at all! That’s why it is worth seeing LOTS!
Happy house hunting…

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Vietnam: Phu Quoc Island

Falling to sleep on Phu Quoc Island Oct 2011; this place is so chilled, there is not much else to do. It reminds me of Thailand 25 years ago without the hippy invasion and flee markets. There is a sleepy port (Duong Dong) with local market, and fresh fish that you can get  barbecued in the night market nearby. There is a waterfall, a pepper farm (the pepper is really famous here, and tastes delcious and lemony and worth buying as gifts) and good diving (I suggest you use Rainbow Divers). Rent a motor bike and pottor over the pot holes around the Island exploring and go walking in the National Park up North. Or just chill and go to sleep a lot like me.

I’m staying at: La Veranda Resort, which is well worth the money compared to what I have seen at other resorts.

Touring from here: you can get a boat and travel up the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City. Or from Ho Chi Minh travel down the Delta to here.

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