Chinese New Year 2019

Happy Year of the Pig! If you were born in the year 1983, 1995, or 2007 this is your year!!

Taylor and I are back in our second home and starting our new year by regrouping and relaxing. After a very busy few months traveling all over the states for the holidays, we’ve been taking a true “vacation” for ourselves.

Before jumping into our adventures within Beijing, I’m going to take it back a few weeks. I think this will make things easier to understand. Upon landing in China, we quickly realized that the whole country was shutting down for the New Year. To fight the 13 hour jet lag, we took a small trip to Shanghai with a couple friends who live in Nanjing too. We’ve been to Shanghai numerous times, because it’s only an hour (or 2 depending on the stops) train ride from Nanjing.  IMG_7046invite you to an anniversary party to celebrate their ten years of marriage!We spent a good portion of our time eating good food, walking around the People’s Square, and visiting the largest Starbucks in the world! I was in coffee HEAVEN! I didn’t know this was even located in Shanghai until a few months ago. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery was 2 stories high and was it’s very own coffee factory. They offer way more food and drink options at this location. I tried the butterscotch latte and it was the best latte I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if this was seasonal or available everywhere? It was new to me. 🙂5Processed with VSCO with g6 presetOf course it was packed with people, but you could spend hours here watching the coffee being made, looking at all the special merchandise, and even enjoy a pairing bar! This is something everyone needs to see when visiting Shanghai. I can’t wait to go back.IMG_7050IMG_7052Our friends are huge Disney lovers, so they hold season passes to the Disney Shanghai park. They showed us the beautiful Disney resort and took us to the Downtown Disney area. Taylor and I are excited to experience Disney Shanghai later in the year. We all grabbed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before retiring back to our hotel for the night. Tay and I returned to Nanjing the next day.

Now remember when I said the whole country of China was shutting down for the Chinese New Year?? Well this created a small setback for us. Taylor wasn’t expected to return to work for several more weeks, and our city was becoming emptier and emptier. Instead of sitting in our apartment for days and days, we booked last-minute train tickets to Beijing! Bullet trains can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to reach Beijing from Nanjing, depending on how many stops it makes. IMG_7200The two of us love Beijing, and thought this was the perfect time to experience an authentic Chinese New Year! Whenever we travel to Beijing, we stay within the Sanlitun district because it’s the most western and a fantastic place to meet people our age who are also expats. There’s always something going on!3 We kicked off our second day by watching the Super Bowl at 7am at The Local. I’ve never seen so many Americans in one location within China before. It was so odd watching the Super Bowl this early and without all the dips and snacks, but it turned out to be really fun!2On Chinese New Year, we met up with friends who live in Beijing to visit some of the festivals. There were shows, food, and extravagant displays lining the parks and streets! By the way, it was freezing!!DSC_56044IMG_7233DSC_5644The whole day was spent exploring and immersing ourselves into a Chinese New Year celebration. DSC_5692DSC_56496DSC_5670I was really hoping to see a Chinese dragon show, but we couldn’t find one. Apparently it’s a southern China thing. However, they still had a bunch of performances that were super fun to watch. DSC_56537DSC_5657DSC_5698DSC_5703I loved seeing all the vibrant colors and different traditions China upholds every single year. They really know how to ring in a new year! 9DSC_56878After the celebration, we called it a day. We spent the next few days eating more great food and walking around Beijing together. It’s always nice to get away for a few days and experience something new!

The Great Wall of China | Beijing Part 2

If you missed my last post, it was all about our first day exploring Beijing! You can read it HERE. Taylor and I had such a fun and relaxing day wondering around the city, but we were even more excited for our second day. Like most people, we have been dreaming about seeing the Great Wall of China because it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World. We knew we were going to see it during our time living in China, but we strategically planned to go during the month of October. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s less crowded, cooler, and the leaves would be transitioning.

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, Taylor is no average guy when it comes to traveling. He always takes the path less traveled and strives to make his experiences the most unique. The Great Wall of China was no exception. His boss whom we had lunch with the previous day made sure we had the most authentic and wonderful experience. He’s been living here for over 10 years, so he was very helpful!!

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At 7:30am, he sent a driver to come pick us up at our hotel for the day. If you’re planning on traveling to Beijing to see the Great Wall, please remember that the most popular sections of The Wall will take 40 minutes to an hour to get there. There are various ways you can get there:

  1. The Bus – Probably the cheapest route.
  2. A tour group – make sure you do your research on this one. I’ve heard people talk about how they were scammed by doing this.
  3. Hiring a Car – I’m not sure how much this costs, but I’m sure it’s not cheap.

Most tourists visit a part of the wall that has been rebuilt by the government for tourism and accessibility. There’s nothing wrong with this, but we didn’t want hundreds of people around and we wanted to see something real and historical. We were taken to Huang Hua and it took 2 hours to get there by car. Once we arrived, our driver dropped us off in a very small farming town. We paid 5RMB each to walk through a woman’s restaurant, which lead to a small opening in the wall. The view from that first lookout was amazing!

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We hired a photographer named Tony to join us because we really wanted to enjoy the moment and take our Christmas card photos. Tony was a friend of a friend, and he’s currently earning his bachelor’s degree in Beijing. He was absolutely phenomenal and a joy to have along. If you’re in the Beijing area and want a photographer, I’d highly recommend him. I know we’ll be asking him to take photos again in the future!! He was such a sweet guy.

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Walking along The Wall was a lot more difficult than we were expecting. Some parts were straight up! It didn’t help that we were dressed for photos. 🙂 We hiked to the next town, which took close to two hours with all the pictures. We crossed paths with one other person during the whole time. This is unheard of with The Great Wall. Even Tony was astonished and said he’d never return to the popular sections again. He told us that he visited during the summer and he could barley walk or take photos with all the people.

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We paid another 10RMB each to exit the wall through someone’s orchard. Our driver was waiting there ready to take us home. I was so exhausted after all the hiking and photos that I fell asleep the whole two hours back into the city. We were dropped off in Sanlitun, and headed straight for lunch.

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We ate at another favorite, Home Plate BBQ! As you can imagine, we were starving! Taylor ordered the fried buffalo chicken sandwich and I ordered their classic pulled pork sandwich. We also split an order of bbq pulled pork fries! Yum!

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After scarfing down our food, we went back to The Bookworm to look at our photos and reflect on our Great Wall experience. Tony took all the photos on my memory card so we’d have access to them immediately. We were also able to edit them however we wanted!

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Before heading to the train station, we walked around one of the markets. To be honest, we didn’t really enjoy it. The stuff there was almost “too nice” and the sellers weren’t willing to negotiate much. Nothing stood out either. We prefer the markets in Shanghai much more. We got to the train station a few hours before our train because we were meeting our wonderful friend Jenny!! We met her years ago when we visited China the first time, and we finally had the chance to reconnect because she lives in Beijing now. We got Starbucks and caught up on life. I’m so thankful for a friend like Jenny!

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Side note: if you’re a Starbucks mug collector like me, the Beijing train station has almost every Chinese city you can imagine!! Don’t stress if you can’t find one out and about.

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I still can’t believe we hiked The Great Wall of China! Everything about our experience was perfect, and I can’t wait to take family and friends there in the future. ❤

We’ll be traveling to Hong Kong for our second visa run tomorrow. Make sure you’re subscribed for all the details. Thank’s for reading!! xoxo

Weekend in Beijing | Part 1

Taylor and I just got back from a weekend trip to Beijing!

As China residents, we’ve been dreaming about visiting this city together for a few months now. It’s so close, yet so far! Taylor had visited Beijing maybe 4 or 5 times before on his own, but I only visited for a few hours before my flight to Hawaii back in July. We waited until October to visit for a few reasons:

  1. It’s way less crowded. Tourists who travel to China can usually be found in Beijing and Shanghai during the summer months.
  2. The weather was much cooler, making it more enjoyable to walk around.
  3. We wanted to see the Great Wall of China while the leaves were transitioning.

With that being said, you should consider visiting Beijing during the Fall too! I’m so glad we waited. I think this is the best time to visit China in general.

We took a high speed train from Nanjing to Beijing Sunday night after Taylor got off work. We left at 7pm and arrived around 11pm. For some reason, the train station in Beijing wasn’t allowing anyone to exit through the taxi station so we were all pushed to the street. Our estimated DiDi (Chinese Uber) wait time was over 2 hours!! They also weren’t allowing Taxis to come to the street where everyone was standing in the cold?? #china In order to get to our hotel, we had to jump in a taxi with a complete stranger and pay him half the ride just to get out of the area. After driving for 15 minutes, we got out and tried ordering a DiDi again. Thankfully, we only waited 10 minutes this time.

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The next morning, we headed to the MLB China headquarters! We’d heard only good things about it, so we wanted to check it out ourselves. This was like a baseball lovers dream space!

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We had lunch with Tay’s boss before heading to the Beijing Zoo!

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It only cost 19RMB ($3) each to enter the zoo and see the panda exhibit! If you don’t want to see the panda’s, it’s even cheaper!

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After a few hours of walking around, we went to Tiananmen Square. It’s located in the center of Beijing and was built back in 1415 during the Ming dynasty. We had our photo taken in front of the entrance for 15RMB ($2.50) as a keepsake! 🙂 By the time we got to the square they were shutting things down, so we got to walk from the front gate to the back gate for free!

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One of the biggest reasons we enjoy coming to Beijing, is for the food! If you’re an American looking for comfort in China, then you HAVE TO check out Sanlitun. It’s a big western area and we love exploring here. We had dinner at The Local, which is Tay’s favorite! I ordered a hot spiced apple cider and the chicken parmesan sandwich. Both were amazing!!

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After devouring our dinner, we went next door to The Bookworm for drinks! This was the cutest place ever and I wish there was something like it around us in Nanjing. As a bookworm and all things cozy myself, this was like heaven to me! It’s a library/bar/cafe! We each ordered a whiskey sour and skimmed books about China. I could literally spend all day here.

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We topped off the night with some ice cream from Cow’s! I was in the mood for something extra sweet, so I ordered the birthday cake flavor and Taylor ordered the peanut butter cup!

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We crashed early once we got back to our hotel because we had to be up early the next day. We were traveling to the Great Wall of China in the morning! Stay tuned for part 2 of our Beijing trip! xoxo

 

 

Arriving in Bangkok

We made it!! After a 14 hour flight from Newark, New Jersey to Beijing, China, then 5 hours from Beijing to Bangkok we have successfully made it to Thailand.

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We left bright and early from Pennsylvania at 6am in order to be at the airport by 9. With international travel, they recommend being there 3 hours before your flight in order to get through baggage and security. We flew economy with Air China and although it was long, we made friends on the plane, the food wasn’t awful, and the flight went smoothly.

We were supposed to have a 5 hour layover in Beijing, but our flight was delayed and it ended up being around 7 hours. We walked around to stretch our legs, exchanged currency, and went to a Pizza Hut to satisfy Taylor’s unending love for pizza.

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We would be arriving in Bangkok at 1:30am their time so we wanted to refrain from sleeping at the airport so that we would fall asleep at the hotel. Little did we know that it would take 1 hour to get through customs and security. IT WAS SO HARD TO STAY AWAKE. We took a taxi straight to our hotel and it cost us $13.89 in USD. Thankfully it paid off and we knocked out as soon as we arrived at the hotel.

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When planning our trip, we didn’t schedule anything for Saturday because we knew we would be exhausted. I’m so glad we assumed this because we slept for 9 hours and then decided to go to the pool. There was a Starbucks next to our hotel so of course I got some before we set out for the day. My normal Grande Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte only cost me $3.75 in U.S. Dollars.

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Around 4pm we hopped aboard the sky train and headed to the Grand Palace. Once we got off the train we loaded onto a Long Tail boat which would take us up and down the river. Unfortunately, the Grand Palace was closed when we got there, but it was really fun to ride up and down the river. The boat cost 14 Baht which is equal to 75 cents in American dollars for the both of us.

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When our ride was over, we decided to stop at some malls to check our their local shopping and then get some dinner. After looking at all the menus, we finally decided to eat at the White Flower Factory. It was super yummy! They had a mix of Thai and European foods.

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Taylor ordered an Apple/Kiwi smoothie and I had a Mango one. They were so fresh and delicious!

After our garlic bread appetizer I had a pesto fettuccine with salmon and Taylor ordered salmon and rice. Our meal cost us $19.73 in USD.

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After dinner we walked through a local market and then headed back to the hotel for the night. It only cost us $3.05 round trip for the both of us to get to and from all our adventures on the Sky Train.

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We have a BIG day planned for tomorrow and we need some rest.