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13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 10 Chongqing Sofitel Forebase Hotel

Chengdu East to Chongqing North Station

After four wonderful nights in Chengdu, we would be heading over to Chongqing this morning. We had already packed the night before so after a quick breakfast, we were ready venture out to our next destination. Checking out at front desk was a breeze and professionally handled. We had a great three nights stay here and enjoyed comfort, luxury and great services from the staff in the hotel.

Having purchased our high speed train tickets three days ago, we took a taxi to Chengdu East Train Station. We could have taken a ride on the MRT changing train at Tianfu Square Station to Chengdu East Station. But we would have to lug our luggage to Jinjiang Station a few minutes walk away from the Sofitel Taihe Chengdu Hotel. We thought it might be a little too much hassle to travel with luggage on the MRT trains during morning rush hour as well as my wife nursing a sprained ankle. So taking a taxi would be much better.

We reached Chengdu East Train Station in good time to prepare for our 9.05 am ride. After getting through security checks, we waited in the very huge and futuristic train station. Not long after, we were called to get to the platform to wait for our train ride to Chongqing. Soon, we were comfortably seated enjoying our ride to Chongqing.

Chongqing North Station to Sofitel Forebase Chongqing

We arrived Chongqing North Station on time at 11.12 am without incident. The ride was of course very nice and comfortable, much better than taking a flight on a budget airline. Getting out of the train and heading into the train station wasn’t a problem.

However, walking to take a taxi was quite a long walk. In addition, there was quite a long queue of passengers waiting to board taxis. Nevertheless, there were plenty of taxis waiting in queue for passengers. So heading out of the train station wasn’t very difficult. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 10 Chongqing Sofitel Forebase Hotel

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 9 Chengdu City Attractions

Waking up to the Last Day in Chengdu

Today would be our last day to explore the city of Chengdu before moving on to Chongqing the next day. Having gone down to the restaurant for breakfast the previous morning, we opted to have a quieter breakfast up on the Club Floor this time. The breakfast spread was no less enticing. The breakfast was excellent, especially with the nice view from this height overlooking the river.

With breakfast done, we returned to our suite room to prepare ourselves for the the day’s adventure. After refreshing ourselves and packing essentials needed for the day, we left our suite room. Before leaving the hotel, we checked out some facilities here. The fitness centre, games room and the lounge were empty early in the morning. We then left Hotel Sofitel Chengdu Taihe to proceed with our tour of Chengdu.

Heading to Jinli Ancient Street

China has blocked Google Maps so we needed an alternative. As such, we had to download Baidu Maps on our phones and hence, getting around the city wasn’t a problem. With the help of Baidu Maps, we walked out to the bus stop on the main road. Our first destination was Jinli Ancient Street.

Getting there would be very easy taking bus number 82 just 4 stops away. Bus fare would be just CNY 2. So we waited for the bus and soon were on our way. The bus was a little packed though during the morning. Quite soon, we alighted and were outside Jinli Ancient Street. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 9 Chengdu City Attractions

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

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 4 Tung Chung Residential Area

Tung Chung Residential Neighbourhood

We woke up to a very cloudy morning. From our windows, we could see it was wet outside. Our sleep was pretty good in Novotel Citygate Hotel. Departure flight out of Hong Kong was 2.50 pm. So we still had the whole morning to explore Tung Chung neighbourhood.

By the time we were ready, we walked through the quiet Citygate Outlet Mall and headed towards the residential neighbourhood via a covered walkway. It was drizzling this morning as we made our way to the mall in the residential area. Good thing there is this covered walkway.

This neighbourhood is made up of blocks of very tall residential apartment. There are so many blocks now since our last visit five years ago. This place is now pretty developed. The population density here is very high. Amenities have to cater to this large population residing here as not everyone is interested in high-end brands outlet shopping at Citygate Mall.

Hong Kong Breakfast in Tung Chung

Once we reached the residential mall, we went into a busy Hong Kong Restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant was rather packed. But we still managed to get two seats and shared tables like everyone else. It was a typical Hong Kong ambiance and speaking Cantonese would be great to get things done although the staff can speak Mandarin as well. Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 4 Tung Chung Residential Area

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 3 Tung Chung and Sham Shui Po

Morning Scene at Causeway Bay

We had another great night sleep in the luxurious Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel. In a few hours, we would be leaving Hong Island and head over to Novotel Citygate Hotel at Tung Chung near the airport. From there we hoped to visit Lantau Island. After a great breakfast experience at Tai Hing Restaurant the previous day, we decided to head back there for breakfast one more time.

So we left the hotel and walked towards Times Square. The streets were wet after an overnight shower. It was still drizzling a little when we made our way to Tai Hing Restaurant. Office staff were hurrying to work. The pace of life is pretty fast in Hong Kong.

We arrived Tai Hing Restaurant and this time, we had a little more space as the restaurant wasn’t fully occupied yet. We settled down and ordered the same breakfast sets of lotus leaf glutinous rice and noodle soup. Like the day before, we enjoyed this simple but satisfying breakfast.

Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 3 Tung Chung and Sham Shui Po

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 2 Authentic Hong Kong

Rise and Shine at Causeway Bay

The Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel was indeed a great hotel to stay in the Causeway Bay area. We had a great time shopping around the hotel but more importantly a great night sleep in luxury in our very modern nicely furnished room. In fact, we didn’t feel like getting up early. But missing out on the happenings in Hong Kong for morning breakfast would be a pity. We wished to see the authentic face of Hong Kong and not just the usual touristy places which we had already visited in the past.

After pulling away the curtains, we thought we could catch sunrise from our room windows facing east, but the weather wasn’t too good after the recent typhoon. There were fast passing clouds turning the scenery outdoor gloomy but bright again from time to time when the sun managed to pierce through some clouds. The city view and the partial sea view were quite pretty whenever sufficient sun light brightened up the place.

Authentic Hong Kong Breakfast

Having spoken to one of the concierge staff the previous evening, we had some idea where we might want to sample Hong Kong breakfast. So we left the hotel and went out to explore the surrounding. The city was quiet but people were on the move. It was time for the locals to get to work. Their quicken pace on the streets was understandable.

We walked past Entrance E of Causeway Bay Station and then crossed the main road towards Times Square. After walking through a few streets, we spotted a traditional Hong Kong restaurant where locals were having breakfast. So we went in and took the remaining table with two seats. Like any typical Hong Kong restaurant, it was a little cramped inside. The restaurant was however, bright, modern and clean.

Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 2 Authentic Hong Kong

4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 1 Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong City Break Itinerary

It had been quite a few years since we visited Hong Kong, so we thought it would be a good idea to head to Hong Kong for a city break to celebrate our wedding anniversary in June. Moreover, airfares to Hong Kong have been pretty affordable flying on budget airlines. In addition, we had our Accor Plus free stay to use up for the year, hence we took advantage on this and booked those expensive Accor Group hotels in Hong Kong for the trip.

So our airfares via Jetstar was just about $135 per person. Flight timings were very good too.

Singapore to Hong Kong 10.10 am to 2.10 pm

Hong Kong to Singapore 2.50 pm to 6.40 pm

Accor Hotels booked were The Park Lane Hong Kong Pullman Hotel in Hong Kong Island for two nights and then the last night in Novotel Hong Kong Citygate near the airport. There was nothing much to prepare so this trip was really easy. Anyway, other than shopping and dining, what else was there to do with some other sight-seeing activities depending on the weather.

Jetstar Flight to Hong Kong

The day soon came and our flight to Hong Kong was a breeze. We were quite worried about our flight as Hong Kong was hit by a typhoon just a few days before our departure. But mainland China was more badly hit where Hong Kong just some skirmishes. We were very glad it was over by the time we left for Hong Kong. Continue reading 4 Days Hong Kong City Break (2017) – Day 1 Hong Kong Island

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

Last Day in Europe

Finally, we woke up to the last day of our Europe Tour. Our departure flight out of Amsterdam to Zurich was 8.05 pm. Connecting flight from Zurich to Singapore was 10.45 pm. So this left us with an entire day to explore Amsterdam one last time before saying good bye to this beautiful city.

As for breakfast, we consumed all those food we bought from the supermarket since this was our last day in Europe. Coffee and tea were self service in our room. Although breakfast was simple, it was good to get us started. It was still pretty quiet on the street when we looked out from our room windows. We decided to explore some attractions nearby before returning to check out and then leave our luggage with Hotel CC. We would then explore attractions further away from the hotel.

Exploring Attractions near Hotel CC

Out on the street so early, we encountered the same situation the day before. The streets were filthy and smelly. However, city cleaners were already out on the streets getting into gear with their cleaning up operation. Auto street sweeping machines were deployed and the streets would be ready to welcome visitors quite soon.

This morning, we walked through the red light district which was pretty dead at this hour. The first place we visited was the Oude Church. This was quite a sizeable church but what was the church doing right in the red light district, we failed to figure out. Anyway, this 800 year-old church is one of the main attractions here. This is a significant historic building. It was closed when we were there but we would probably not pay to enter the building. The church building was however, pretty nice.

We then crossed the canal and then another canal and enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood. As expected, the streets were quite empty. It was still very early and shops were not open yet. This was a rather different experience as we had a very excited busy and noisy day in Amsterdam the day before.

We continued walking to find the Nieumarkt and reached an open area in another quiet neighbourhood. To our disappointment, this market wasn’t open on the day of our visit. So we walked back towards the main train station enjoying canal sights and a peaceful morning in Amsterdam. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam