And not a moment too soon! Now that baby makes FOUR, we’ll still be travelling in threes with her in the formula of Mom+Dad+Kids and soooo excited to do so! But first, we need to update on what’s been going on in our recent travelling past… So the last time I posted I mentioned China. China was an interesting experience for us. What stood out most of all was how much the people there LOVED kids, at least the ones we encountered. Our guide from Aman at Summer Palace in Beijing told us that since they could not have more than one most of the time, they treasured and appreciated children in general.
We began our journey in Shanghai and started it well by forgetting to bring our trusty travel stroller. Smart!
We walked around the shikumen-type shops that day which were a great alternative to Shanghai’s big, generic, impersonal shopping malls which sprouted up everywhere and anywhere as a testament to the city’s capitalist stance. Taikang Lu is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon exploring and shopping. It’s a great place for handmade buys and you can stop as often as you like for coffee/snacks which is essential when you are travelling with bub.
We were happy to find a nice, inexpensive organic cafe at Taikang Lu. Called Origins cafe, they do great pastas, cakes and smoothies! Keyaan loved the berry smoothie so much we had to come back and get him a second helping.
Later on, we couldn’t take it any more and caved in to buy a pram. We went across the Huangpu to the Pudong side and found a Toys R Us at Super Brands Mall. They had a nifty Combi travel stroller that cost only SGD80. Score! It came in lime-green and had a shoulder strap for easy carrying when not in use. I also liked the way it collapsed and can self-stand.
We were intially staying at the beautiful Les Suites Orient boutique hotel, right on the Bund. It was beautifully artistic with vintage deco pieces in warm, woody hues.
It was a very central and lovely location, very near to a lot of food and shops and of course, the lovely boardwalk on the Bund. But after two night, we moved to a different hotel called Parkyard, which was a fair bit away from the city. The good thing about the hotel was that it had a huge heated pool in the basement and there was a funny heartland-type mall beside it that had a Starbucks and lotsa noodle shops.
And how could we visit Shanghai without indulging in one of their culinary specialities: hairy crab! We were kindly hosted by the good people at Four Seasons Hotel to partake of their in-season crab degustation at at their authentic fine Cantonese and Shanghainese Si Ji Xuan restaurant.
This was my favourite dish: warm, comforting and yummy. I like meatballs of almost any kind.
This was also nice to sup on in chilly weather…
All too soon, our Shanghai nights ended and we were off to Beijing via a short plane ride.
We met up with my Godmum who lives there and she proceeded to spoil us silly by taking us on a whirlwind tour in Beijing. We stayed with her for a night and she would have had us there longer if not for the fact that Aman Summer Palace had promised us a wonderful three nights stay with them, so we could not refuse!
The Lobby was vast.
As a Mum, I love hotels that bother with the little details for their younger guests…
We quickly got down to the business of Beijing. For us, we were very clear on a few important things: the UNESCO sites and Peking duck. Pearls came a little later after we’ve had our fill of history and quacks. We started with a whirlwind tour of Forbidden City… like literally whirlwind, cos we did it so quickly wind blew threw Keyaan’s long locks.
The vastness of the Forbidden City has to be experienced to be believed. Being there – in a place that was the backdrop for such movies as The Last Emperor, Raise The Red Lantern, Mulan (well… kind of!) – had me connected with a strong sense of history and grandeur of a different age. We may build sky scraping towers and subterranean malls now, but never again would we see the type of artisanship (and effort) that went into these walls.
After such “hard work”, we took a
quack crack at Dadong – one of the celebrated places for Peking Duck in Beijing.
I’m a big fan of Peking Duck. I love how the tender, slightly smoky-tasting meat and crisped skin is wrapped around little pancakes with a dash of sweet sauce and cucumber in bite sizes. Some people say that Dadong is overrated, that there are better (and cheaper) places to have good Peking Duck in Beijing. I didn’t have time to try out any other so my view is probably biased but this is some damn good duck. The local one at Park Palace restaurant is good, the one in Melbourne’s Hutong Dumpling Bar is better but this one is GUUUUD.
We got up early but not not to bright to get to The Great Wall. We weren’t planning on climbing or trekking, seeing as we were with little Dobbes. Although I doubt if I had been there without him I would have wanted to check out Simitai, a wilder, less restored section of the wall. We settled on Mutianyu which was less crowded than Badaling, the nearest section to the city.
I was really tickled by all the banners there, advertising how awesome the cellphone reception was at the top of The Great Wall. But they were telling the truth!
We spent the remainder of our time in Beijing…
Verdict? China is a great place to visit with kids. Like any other place, exercise caution and have a healthy dose of it too. Don’t let kids run free in unfamiliar places and stay at reputable hotels. Don’t skimp on food (or mineral water… some sell “fake” bottles that filled with the tap version) and absorb all the history and culture that the country has to offer.
Until next time when I update my overdue destinations, Zai Jian!