Category Archives: Travel

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 8 Chengdu Panda Research Base

Great Breakfast at Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

Our sleep in the luxury suite in Sofitel Chengdu Taihe was indeed sweet. We hardly felt like getting up. In fact, we didn’t really feel like exploring the city after checking in the day before. It was great to be pampered here, especially upgrading to this suite with access to the club floor for afternoon tea and evening cocktail.

We had been in the land of the pandas for a week now. Today, we would get to see some real life pandas. It was about time to meet our lovely friends, the symbol of China. But before that, we had to get some breakfast. We had the option of heading up to the club floor with more privacy or the restaurant below. We decided to head down to the restaurant to join the crowd.

Over at the restaurant, we could still find a table that was unoccupied. The staff attending to us was friendly and helpful. The restaurant had a French theme deco, very pleasant and lovely. Buffet spread was great, a wide selection of western and local food dishes. It was definitely five-star standard food serving.

We went around collecting food we liked and they were good. Except the noodles I got from the noodle station was a little too spicy even though I had told the chef to serve with less chilli. This is Sichuan after all so I can understand. Unless I give local food a miss, I’ll have to get use to spicy food.

Heading to Chengdu Panda Research Base

After breakfast, we returned to our room to get ready. Soon, we left Sofitel Chengdu Taihe. We crossed the main road and walked along the park beside the river towards the left. The morning was quite cooling and the park was quiet with occasional cyclists cycling past. After crossing the bridge at the traffic junction, we entered Xinnanmen MRT Station. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 8 Chengdu Panda Research Base

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 7 Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

Great Breakfast at Dorsett Grand Chengdu Hotel

We didn’t plan a lot of activities today in Chengdu. We would be shifting over to Sofitel Chengdu Taihe later. Perhaps we might just visit attractions near Sofitel Chengdu Taihe Hotel after checking into the hotel. So it would be a relaxing day, especially needful for my wife to nurse her sprained ankle.

The first thing to do this morning would be a nice breakfast in Dorsett Grand Chengdu Hotel. So when we were ready, we went down to the restaurant for breakfast. We had a great lunch and dinner at the restaurant the previous day so we came with expectation to have a great breakfast too. We were indeed not disappointed.

The restaurant was very pleasant and wasn’t very crowded when we arrived. The buffet spread was substantial and very presentable. More importantly, the Chinese and Western food were very tasty, much better than some five-star hotels we had stayed in major cities in China.

Morning Rest in Dorsett Grand Chengdu Hotel

After breakfast, we returned to our very nice modern spacious room to rest. It was still too early to check out to head to Sofitel Chengdu Taihe Hotel. We won’t be allowed to check in if we arrived too early. Our high floor room here was simply too good to give up too early as well.

From today onward, we would have three more nights in Chengdu follow by another three more nights in Chongqing, staying in five-star Sofitel Hotels. So we needed to purchase high speed train tickets to Chongqing and return to Chengdu Airport for our flight home. Since there won’t be much to do in the morning, I went to buy train tickets while my wife rested in the room. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 7 Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 6 Dujiangyan to Chengdu

Ancient Town to High Speed Train Station

Buffet breakfast was still available today in Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel. Having seen the buffet spread the previous morning catered mainly to local tourists, we didn’t want to waste time heading to the dining hall. We had already bought food from the bakery so our breakfast was taken care of and we also preferred our own coffee and tea.

After breakfast, we went to the lobby to process check out. It was done in a breeze. We took a short walk to the main gate and waited for a taxi. It was a pleasant morning here in Dujiangyan Ancient Town. Couple of minutes later, we managed to flag down a taxi. We requested the taxi driver to send us to the high speed train station.

Along the way, the driver found out we were heading to Chengdu. He asked if he could send us all the way to our hotel in Chengdu instead. We politely declined as taking a high speed train from Dujiangyan to Chengdu cost only CNY 10. A taxi ride to Chengdu would set us back over CNY 150. Besides, we were heading to Chengdu Grand Dorset Hotel located next to Luomashi MRT Station. So there was no need to take a taxi to our hotel. We were not in a hurry anyway.

Dujiangyan High Speed Train Station to Chengdu

Not long after the taxi ride, we reached Dujiangyan High Speed Station. Taxi fare was around CNY 30. We then went into the ticketing hall to purchase our tickets to Chengdu. There was short queue and soon we got our tickets. We were not worried about the train tickets as there were many train trips heading to Chengdu everyday.

Security was tight at the high speed train station. All baggage had to go through x-ray scanner. Once we had entered the station, we waited for boarding at the gate for our train to Chengdu. Soon we were allowed to head to the platform. Not long after, we boarded our train to Chengdu. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 6 Dujiangyan to Chengdu

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 5 Qing Cheng Shan

Giving Buffet Breakfast A Miss

Back in Dujiangyan, our sleep was sweet. The freezing sleepless night over at Siguniang Mountain due to power failure was a thing of the past. Fully recharged, we were ready to head out to explore Dujiangyan attractions today.

We were told buffet breakfast was available as there were more guests staying in Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel this time. We saw quite a number of local tourists the previous day. So we went over to the small eating place at the back of the hotel. Some Chinese guests were already having breakfast.

The tables were a mess where guests had already vacated. The manager was busy clearing tables and sweeping the floor as well. We found a clean table and took our seats. After a quick survey at the small buffet spread, we decided to leave. The food available were catered to the local tourists and definitely not to our taste.

Back in our room, we made coffee and tea and enjoyed the bakery stuff we bought the night before. It was so much more palatable. After washing up and packing our stuff to make room for housekeeping to make our room later, we were ready to head out to Qing Cheng Shan.

Time to Explore Dujiangyan Attractions

Out on the street, the air was fresh. Along the way, we saw a  couple in traditional costumes having photo shoot so early in the morning. Perhaps the couple wanted to take advantage of the quiet streets before the crowd arrived.

Walking along the lovely streets in the ancient town, we soon made it across the famous Blue Bridge. It was a hive of activities so early in the morning. So many visitors were already out here to enjoy the place.

In front of the bridge, a huge group of students were out on an excursion. They were posing for group pictures in front of the bridge. Teachers were giving out instructions and information to these kids who were apparently very happy to be out of school for the day. Of course, it was quite noisy here with the happy kids chirping away.

The entrance to the scenic park was crowded too. We didn’t expect so many visitors here eager to visit the park so early in the morning. Perhaps it was a Saturday and folks were off for work and could spend some leisure time here. We were still pondering whether to visit this attraction once we returned from Qing Cheng Shan as entrance fee was CNY 90 per person. Just to take some nice pictures inside the garden and on the suspension bridges might not seem quite justifiable. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 5 Qing Cheng Shan

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 4 Siguniang to Dujiangyan

Miserable Night in Siguniang

Yun Xi Gu Guesthouse suffered power failure during the evening. This was due to damaged cables in town. The guesthouse was operating on a small generator. This however could not power up electric heater, water heater and the heating lamps in the bathroom.

At least we could leave some lights on in the bathroom when we sneaked into bed with the electric blanket to keep us warm. We were praying and hoping the worse was over when we went to bed to sleep for the night. Unfortunately, our hopes were short-lived. After midnight, there was complete blackout in the room. The lights we left on in the bathroom were gone. The electric blanket went dead.

We didn’t know whether it was due to fuel ran out for the generator or even the generator had failed. But we were too tired to get up to investigate. In fact, we didn’t hear any noise at all. No one seemed to bother. It was too cold outdoor anyway.

But our misery didn’t end there. My wife was nursing a headache probably due to altitude sickness. Whenever she needed to use the bathroom, I had to turn on the flash light on my cell phone to show her the way. This went on till the morning. Needless to say, we hardly slept.

We didn’t know how we got through the night. Daylight came through the window and we crawled our worn out body out of bed. There was no one outside. Apparently, everyone was still in bed and it was already past 8 am. Outdoor looked pretty refreshing and the day looked promising. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 4 Siguniang to Dujiangyan

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 3 Dujiangyan to Siguniang Mountains

Winter Morning in Dujiangyan

It was low season now in Dujiangyan. Front desk staff told us there would be no buffet breakfast due to low occupancy rate. But we could still have breakfast at the restaurant where only tangyuan or dumplings would be available. We weren’t really disappointed as our purpose to stay here wasn’t for fine dining in Dujiangyan but to use this base to transfer over to Siguniang Mountains.

So when we went to front desk at 7 am, we were told to head to the kitchen at the back of the hotel and tell the chef what we would like for breakfast. Once we reached the kitchen, we saw the security guard watching TV. We were surprised he doubled up as a cook on top of his regular job taking care of security matters in the hotel. We then told him to serve us a bowl of tangyuan and another bowl of dumplings.

Simple Breakfast at Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel

After telling him, we entered the dining room across the kitchen. There was another guest waiting inside the dining room watching TV. We took our seats and soon, the chef came in with a bowl of noodle soup for the other guest. Later, he brought us our bowl of tangyuan and dumplings and asked if we wanted anything else. Since we noticed he served the other guest noodle soup, we requested a bowl as well.

The bowl of tangyuan came in smaller size balls with some peanut fillings. We prefer our own version back home. The dumplings however were very good. Another lady guest came in while we were eating. She was complaining there was nothing much to eat the previous day.

Soon the chef came in with our bowl of noodles which was very tasty. The dumplings were a good combination with the noodles too. So the breakfast was rather simple but at least we had some hot food during this winter morning. We didn’t come with much expectation so this breakfast was sufficient for us. For westerners however, this might not be the case.

Waiting for Transfer to Siguniang Mountains

With breakfast done, we returned to our room. After freshening up, we went to front desk to process check out. We left two pieces of luggage with hotel to keep where we would return in three days time after visiting Siguniang Mountains. There was no point bringing all our luggage up the mountainous area. We only packed a hand carry bag sufficient for our two nights stay at Siguniang Mountains. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 3 Dujiangyan to Siguniang Mountains

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

Good Morning Bangkok

Our flight to Chengdu was 10.05 am. Although we had already done online check in for our flight, we would want to be at the airport by 8 am. So we went up to the rooftop restaurant for breakfast slightly before 7 am.

Breakfast would start at 7 am and was getting ready by the time we arrived. We took the opportunity to look around the Bangkok scene from up here. On hindsight, we should have come up here the previous night to check out the night scene with the busy night market below. The views of the surrounding were pretty nice with the sun beginning to rise from the far end.

Next we helped ourselves to the modest breakfast spread. Breakfast was decent given the price we paid for the room. The breakfast wasn’t sumptuous but sufficient. After this quick breakfast, we returned to our room, freshened up and then checked out at front desk. We got back the same THB500 deposit we gave to the staff upon presentation of the receipt.

Patra Hotel to Ratchaprarop Station onward to Airport

According to the map provided by Patra Boutique Hotel, there is a short cut to Ratchaprarop Station. So instead of turning left out of Patra Hotel and then left and another left turn again towards Baiyoke Sky Hotel to walk back to Ratchaprarop Station, we turned right and walked across the railway tracks and then turned right to walk to Ratchaprarop Station not far ahead. It took only 5 minutes. However, you can’t drag your bags all the way as the path is uneven and having to walk along some dirt path. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok

Flight from Singapore to Chengdu

We had wanted to visit Jiuzhaigou for quite some time. So when there was an offer from Singapore to Chengdu flying Thai Airways at only $272, we booked our flights for November. The catch was to transit in Bangkok. Instead to having a short transit from Bangkok to Chengdu where we had to take a very early flight from Singapore to Bangkok, we planned an overnight stay in Bangkok to have a more relaxing arrival in Chengdu on Day 2. Our flight details are as follows:

Singapore to Bangkok 12.25 pm to 1.45 pm
Bangkok to Chengdu 10.05 am to 2 pm on the following day

Chengdu to Bangkok 3.05 pm to 5.20 pm
Bangkok to Singapore 7.25 pm to 10.45 pm

Since we had quite a bit of time in November, we decided to visit Chongqing as well, a city in under 2 hours away from Chengdu by high speed train. We also took advantage of the Accor super sales and booked Sofitel Chengdu Taihe and Sofitel Forebase Chongqing at 50% discounts.

Original Itinerary for Chengdu and Chonqing

Day 1: Singapore to Bangkok

Hotel: Patra Boutique Hotel

Location of this hotel is near Platinum area, easily accessible from the airport using the airport rail link six stations away.

Day 2: Bangkok to Chengdu

Hotel: Leeden Hotel

This hotel is located near MRT Station walking distance to Chunxi Shopping Area.

Day 3: Chengdu to Juizhaigou

Hotel: Jiuxiang Hotel

This hotel is located near the main entrance into Jiuzhaigou National Park.

Will need to take a nine hours bus ride from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok