Tag Archives: travel

Golden Week Holiday! Final Stop – Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

After another quick 1 hour flight, we landed back in Singapore at 2.00pm.  We had cleared immigration and were walking out with our luggage at 2.10pm – super efficient.  We took a luxury hotel shuttle bus to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is the hotel with the boat on the top.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Largest Ferris Wheel in the world.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Largest Ferris Wheel in the world.

View from the Top

View from the Top. Owen is wearing Oliver’s new hat!

Looking down to the ocean and gardens

Looking down to the ocean and gardens

As we had arrived at check in time of 3.00pm, the line was very long, but after collecting our keys we rushed up to our room on 39th floor, changed into swim wear and then raced up to 57th floor and the pool.  It has an infinity edge, so it appears that you could jump out of the pool to the ground below.  It was a little chilly in the pool for Owen and I, so we only stayed long enough for photos!!  The kids enjoyed and hour or so of swimming.

The infinity pool at the top is very cool.

The infinity pool at the top is very cool. The kids thought they could jump out from there to the ground! There are several feet and 3 barriers to prevent this, but it is a great illusion!

My turn for photos!

My turn for photos!

And, Daddy's turn for photos

And, Daddy’s turn for photos!

Chillaxing on the water sun beds!

Chillaxing on the water sun beds!

Messing about on the water sun beds!

Messing about on the water sun beds! This was many minutes of fun: splash, laugh and repeat!

Going......

Going……

Going......

Going……

Gone!

Gone! Splash!

Soaking wet and loving every minute!

Soaking wet and loving every minute!

A quick change out of wet into dry so we could go to dinner.  The Shoppes at Marina Bay is a mall filled with designer, expensive shops.  The mall looked quite busy so I guess singapore must be full of rich people with money to burn.  There were a few celebrity restaurants and we had chosen Bistro Moderne.  Owen had a truffle/short rib burger, Isabelle and Oliver shared a Yankee burger and I had prime rib.  Loads of ice cream for dessert.  All delicious.

We love you Daddy and what a fantastic meal!

We love you Daddy and what a fantastic meal!

Aaah!

Aaah!

We went back up to the roof after dinner to see the skyline lit up. And from our room we watched an amazing light show against water jets as the kids were getting ready for bed.

Singapore at night is amazing.

Singapore at night is amazing.

Up early so we could get to the airport in time for breakfast.  Nice airport with big kids play area.  X-ray machines are by gates – what a fantastic idea!  No long lines waiting to clear security….  I am amazed that no- one has thought of this before.  5 hour flight back to shanghai, ready for work/ school tomorrow…

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Golden Week Holiday! Malaysia, Club Med at Kuantan Beach

After our short flight to Kuantan in Malaysia, we were the only flight to go through customs and immigration – it is a tiny airport!  We had a little delay with the transport to Club Med at Cherating Beach, (we were just about to take a taxi, but then the transport arrived!)  When we arrived we were greeted by several people waiting for us in a welcome party!  On the 40 minute drive from the airport, I was amazed to see cows in front gardens, like you would see dogs anywhere else.  We saw monitor lizards and monkeys on the driveway up to reception.  75% of the resort is jungle and so we have been warned about keeping doors and windows locked to keep monkeys out (apparently it is not enough to just keep them shut, the monkeys have worked out how to open unlocked doors and windows!)  We have connecting rooms in a building on stilts (built in local style)  so better sleeping accommodation than at Sentosa Island.  The resort is built on unspoilt coastline and we walked along the beach once we checked in.  There was no-one else on the beach and the kids found some wonderful shells.

Walking on the empty beach - our footprints were the only ones there.

Walking on the empty beach – our footprints were the only ones there. The kids had fun collecting some amazing seashells.

Kids collecting shells with Daddy

Kids collecting shells with Daddy

After  beach time, it was pool time!  The pool is very kid friendly and there were plenty of loungers and cool places to hang out when it got too hot…..

Just chilling by the pool in a cabana made for 2

Just chilling by the pool in a cabana made for 2

Playing in the water jets at the main pool

Playing in the water jets at the main pool

Club Med is all inclusive so meals are buffet style.  There are so many nationalities here (Japanese, French, Malaysian, Chinese, Korean, American and us!) and the buffet selections reflect this.  So, it was a wonderful opportunity to try new types of food.  After dinner, the kids club were putting on a fashion show, which Isabelle and Oliver loved watching and then the staff performed  Mama Mia.

Mama Mia by the Club Med Staff

Mama Mia by the Club Med Staff – pretty good for an amateur show!

There were tigers everywhere to scare the monkeys!

There were tigers everywhere to scare the monkeys! Cuddly ones as well as statues. We saw the staff use the cuddly ones to get the monkeys away from people – very effective!

The pool in the evening - beautifully lit up

The pool in the evening – beautifully lit up

After a wonderful buffet breakfast (so much choice) on Wednesday morning – the kids went off to kids club.  They were going to spend their morning doing archery, tree topolis, pool games, beach games and circus school (learning how to fly on a trapeze).  Meanwhile, Owen and I had a wonderful Balinese massage.  The beds were next to each other in a cabana overlooking the beach and ocean.  It was so relaxing – we booked another session for Saturday!!

Our massage room - views to the beach!

Our massage room – views to the beach!

At lunch, we saw a group of about 20 monkeys climbing over the roof – they are so cheeky here, they can open patio doors and windows.
The resort is a series of locally built structures (no more than 2 storeys high). They are all on stilts, built of wood.  It is a very Eco-friendly place with recycling, limited bottle water and electricity conservation in all rooms.  They have huge bottles of shampoo and body wash in the bathrooms instead of little giveaways.

Oliver on our walk from the pool to hotel rooms

Oliver on our walk from the pool to hotel rooms

Isabelle and Oliver in the grounds of Club Med

Isabelle and Oliver in the grounds of Club Med

Beautiful flowers all over

Beautiful flowers all over

We spent the afternoon lazing by the pool, reading on our iPads and missing the kids!!  At about 3:45, we saw them coming back from an activity, and thank goodness, they were ready for some Mum and Dad time!!  Another couple of hours flew by in the pool.

On Thursday we were up early so we could get on the bus to go into the jungle and elephant sanctuary on a “Safari tour”.  It was a 2.5 hour bus ride during which we learned lots about Malaysia: they produce 47% of the worlds palm oil which is used in cosmetics and soap; they export bio-diesel.  There are huge palm tree forests all over the region we travelled through.  The population is 60% Malay, 30% Chinese, 7% Indian which means a country full of differing religions – Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist – all of which peacefully co-exist here.
Traditional houses are built on stilts out of wood.  However, newer homes are now built out of concrete so don’t need to be on stilts.  There are no fences or boundaries between different homes, extended families look after each other….. it still is a community that is responsible for the next generation and takes care of everyone.  According to tradition, a coconut tree is planted for every child that is born.  There are 13 states (used to be 14, but Singapore became independent in 1965).  There are 9 regional Kings (Sultans) and every 5 years they take it in turns to be the national King.

Our first stop was at deer Park where we hand fed the deer and an ostrich.  We saw peacocks, parrots, rabbits, pheasants and other birds.  I had a snake around my neck!!

First stop on our "Safari" was at Deerland

First stop on our “Safari” was at Deerland

Tropical birds at Deerland

Tropical birds at Deerland

Owen hand feeding the Ostrich

Owen hand feeding the Ostrich

Sara and Oliver feeding the Ostrich (raw potato)

Sara and Oliver feeding the Ostrich (raw potato)

Oliver enjoying feeding the deer

Oliver enjoying feeding the deer

Isabelle making friends with the deer!

Isabelle making friends with the deer!

This deer wanted to kiss Owen, in exchange for food!

This deer wanted to kiss Owen, in exchange for food!

Both kids got brave feeding the deer through the fence

Both kids got brave feeding the deer through the fence

Isabelle did not want to get her hand pecked by the Ostrich!

Isabelle did not want to get her hand pecked by the Ostrich!

But she loved stroking the deer......

But she loved stroking the deer……

Oliver had a special way with the animals and were happy to settle by him

Oliver had a special way with the animals and were happy to settle by him

Oliver did not want to get his hand pecked either!!

Oliver did not want to get his hand pecked either!!

Even the mature deer loved getting petted by Oliver

Even the mature deer loved getting petted by Oliver

This weird looking bird reminded all of us of a Vulture

This weird looking bird reminded all of us of a Vulture

Making friends with Rabbits

Making friends with Rabbits

Wasn't too sure to start with, but this snake was calm

I wasn’t too sure to start with, but this snake was calm. I tried to get photos with Isabelle and Oliver standing next to me, but neither of them would come close!

Onto lunch in the jungle – fish (tilapia) wrapped in leaves and barbecued (delicious), barbaeque chicken cooked in bamboo, vegetables and rice.  Ripe, juicy melon for dessert.

Chicken in the bamboo and fish wrapped in leaves.

Chicken in the bamboo and fish wrapped in leaves. All delicious!

Then onto the elephant sanctuary.  This was so disappointing for all of us as we had paid for elephant rides and swimming with them, but the law changed TODAY and contact is no longer allowed.  We still got to feed them with peanuts and fruit but it was a bitter letdown after our expectations had been set.  It was all the more disappointing because it was a 2.5 hour bus ride each way to experience what we could have done anywhere, and certainly would not have signed up for that trip for just feeding……

Arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary

Arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary

On our way to feed Elephants at the Sanctuary

On our way to feed Elephants at the Sanctuary

Feeding the elephants with peanuts

Feeding the elephants with peanuts

What a wonderful, beautiful creature

What a wonderful, beautiful creature

So soft and gentle.....

So soft and gentle…..

The kids got good at feeding them all

The kids got good at feeding them all

Elephants

Elephants. The sanctuary takes orphaned and wounded elephants, nurse them back to health and independence and then they are returned to the wild.

After a long, bumpy 2.5 bus ride back to the resort, it was time for dinner.  The day had taken its toll on Owen so it was just me and the kids.  It was circus theme tonight and the same staff that had performed Mama Mia last night, were now performing a Cirque du Soleil type show with a spooky theme (it is almost Halloween, after all!!).  Again, another great amateur performance.  Afterwards, they had us exit through the “ghost train” which was actually a spooky scary walk through.  I was a little bit scared with the witches, ghosts and spooks they had created and the kids were really frightened at the end.  I wish they had warned us that it would be so scary, as dealing with 2 scared kids at 10:30pm was not a pleasant experience……  I had to remind them that it was just people dressed up and in make-up.  I hope they dream of elephant feeding and not scary spooks……..

The staff greeting us for dinner and promoting the evening's entertainment

The staff greeting us for dinner and promoting the evening’s entertainment

Lots of activities for the kids

Lots of activities for the kids. While waiting for the show to start, other staff are keeping the kids happy…..

This monkey was waiting right outside our hotel room!!

This monkey was waiting right outside our hotel room!! Definitely a cheeky monkey!

We spent all of Friday morning by the pool.  After lunch we jumped on the resort electric tram to go to Cherating Beach which is unspoiled, natural and very quiet.  It was a lovely afternoon taking kayaks out on the gentle warm ocean, hunting for shells and generally relaxing.  The kids found loads more wonderful shells.

 

On the tram to go to the Beach

On the tram to go to the Beach

Unspoilt Cherating Beach

Unspoilt Cherating Beach

The other side of the Beach is Jungle!

The other side of the Beach is Jungle!

Tiny crabs everywhere - can you spot the 2nd one??

Tiny crabs everywhere – can you spot the 2nd one??

We had so much fun with the kayaks

We had so much fun with the kayaks

Lizard sunning itself on rocks by the Beach

Lizard sunning itself on rocks by the Beach

End of another perfect day.....

End of another perfect day…..

Club Med realized that we were incredibly disappointed with our elephant experience the day before, so had offered us compensation in the form of a nighttime river boat ride to see thousands of fire flys.  So after a quick dinner, we were jumping in a taxi for a 10 minute ride to the river.  What an absolutely fantastic experience and what a treat!  Isabelle and Oliver both caught some and held them in their hands. They were all over us – hair clothes etc.  It reminded us all of the scene from the Disney move “The Princess and the Frog” and both kids were calling out for “Ray” and “Evangeline” to come to them!!  Both Owen and I tried to get photos and videos of this unique interaction – unfortunately nothing came out.

Ready for the Firefly experience

Ready for the Firefly experience – 1000’s of them lit up the sky around us.

At the Firefly dock

At the Firefly dock

We got back to the Resort, just in time to see 10 mins of tonight’s show on Brazil.  It was only 10 minutes because of 2 very tired kids today……

The staff greeting us for dinner and promoting the Brazil show

The staff greeting us for dinner and promoting the Brazil show

The staff are super good with the kids!

The staff are super good with the kids!

Saturday – oh what a morning of pure indulgence!  Owen and I went back to the spa and had a floral foot wash, body scrub, then shower off and straight into the biggest deepest bath I have seen. Then it was Balinese massage time, followed by a fantastic foot treatment for Owen and facial for me.  3 hours of peace, relaxation and quiet time.

The deepest bath either of us had seen.

The deepest bath either of us had seen. 3 hours of pure indulgence for us!

Beautiful sunset through the local style buildings

Beautiful sunset through the local style buildings

The kids were back in kids club doing trapeze skills, pool games, beach, tree topolis and arts and crafts.  The weather can be so changeable in rainy season.  This morning was brilliant blue skies, but suddenly at 2.30pm down comes the rain accompanied by thunder and spectacular fork lightening.

And down comes the rain.  2 hours later we are back to blue skies and sunshine!

And down comes the rain. 2 hours later we are back to blue skies and sunshine!

By 4.00pm it was over and blue skies were back again.  The pool was reopened and time to get the kids!!  Oliver’s late nights were catching up with him, so Owen took him back to the room for movie quiet time.  5.00pm came and we were back in the pool for final hour of the day.  After a quick shower for us all, we were ready for Rembulan restaurant on the beach (a reservation only restaurant at club med).  We had a lovely meal which Oliver slept through!!   We had a spectacular light show over the ocean as there were storms in the distance so the lightening over the water was truly spectacular.  Isabelle is proving to be quite the young lady – apple juice in the wine glass,  helping herself to the salad bar and enjoying the finest lamb dish.  Watching the other Asian kids in the restaurant, I was really proud of her behaviour and manners.

Remulan Restaurant

Rembulan Restaurant

Owen and Oliver went back to our room (sleeping boy to get into bed) while Isabelle and I enjoyed the last evening show of our holiday.   It was a comedy cabaret and Isabelle was in the front row with a friend from kids club.  I could her laughing throughout the entire show!  Another late night night for her as the show did not finish until 10.30 (she wanted to stay for the disco!!!!!)

Isabelle made it onto the stage for the final show of our stay!

Isabelle made it onto the stage for the final show of our stay!

Sunday – up early for breakfast and then speedily got packed.  In the same way that we had many of the staff to greet us when we arrived, we now had the staff waving goodbye to us all as we got on the coach to take us to the airport.  As I said, Kuantan airport is tiny with only 2 flights a day – 1 to Singapore at lunchtime and 1 to KL in the evening.  Needless to say, not much to do at this airport!!

The staff waving us goodbye - we are on the bus to go to the airport

The staff waving us goodbye – we are on the bus to go to the airport

Golden Week Holiday! First Stop – Shangri-La, Sentosa Beach, Singapore

On Friday September 28th, the kids finished school at noon.  1 short hour later we were on our way to the airport to fly to Singapore for the start of our 10 day holiday over Golden Week.  We flew China Eastern Airlines (I have previously flown a couple of times with them domestically), and this was a different experience from British Airways and Delta – both of whom we are frequent fliers with.  China Eastern Airlines ran out of food and drink when we were only half way into the flight!  The flight was full of people escaping China for the holiday week and the economy seats felt much smaller than in BA or Delta!  It is a 5.5 hour flight from Shanghai to Singapore and I know that for Owen it felt like 15 hours!  Once again, I was proud of our kids who were so well behaved.   Singapore airport was a welcome sight – so clean, so organized and so quick!  No lines to get through immigration and our bags came off rapidly too.  Once through customs, there was a very nice driver waiting to take us to the Shangri-La Sentosa Beach resort.  It was now after 10pm and our 2 kids were fading fast……

We drove in a fancy people carrier which the kids loved.  Owen and I just wanted to get to our hotel room at this point!  Check in was fast – a lovely open air lobby on the 5th floor (road side) and then we rode the elevator down to the first floor to our family garden terrace room by the pool.

Shangri-La Sentosa Beach Resort

Owen’s back was so painful after the travel day and so for our first full day Owen did not leave the hotel room.  Isabelle and Oliver were oblivious to either parent as there was a huge pool with water slides!  They were perfectly happy to be here for the whole day and they quickly made friends on the water slides.   Our international move has been so good for the kids confidence (especially Isabelle, who can be quite reserved initially) as they are both proactive now at introducing themselves and making friends.

Checking out the beach by the hotel

Checking out the beach by the hotel

The pool was a kids paradise!

The pool was a kids paradise!

Oliver chilling with the frogs by the pool

Oliver chilling with the frogs by the pool

"Look Mum, I am peeing!!"

“Look Mum, I am peeing!!”

Later in the afternoon, I realized that I did not have any Singapore $$’s so I booked the kids into Cool Zone (kids club) for 30 minutes so I could get the tram into beach station to find an ATM.  I was so glad that I did that as I saw lots of good things to do outside the resort.  Also, Isabelle and Oliver loved the Cool Zone and begged to go back later!

Outside the Cool Zone

Outside the Cool Zone

I came back to get them so we could see some of the activities that they might want to do – the Luge, Mega Zip wire, Beach, Trapeze.  On the way down we saw a couple of peacocks, a big lizard and lots of monkeys!  We had been warned to keep our terrace patio doors closed as the monkeys will come in to steal things!  During our stay we witnessed a cheeky monkey leap from one balcony to another with something glittery in his hands!  Of course, the kids thought this was hilarious.

The peacocks made them jump!

The peacocks made them jump!

One of the largest trees on Singapore

One of the largest trees on Singapore

Oliver and Isabelle by the big tree

Oliver and Isabelle by the big tree

Please don't feed the Monkeys!!

Please don’t feed the Monkeys!!

Isabelle and Oliver on the Silosa Beach letters

Isabelle and Oliver on the Silosa Beach letters

After a really nice dinner – we are all inclusive so dinner was buffet, but what a choice and all great quality.  I like the concept of eat as much as you want too!  Isabelle and Oliver loved going to all the different stations to try new food.  After dinner, they both wanted to spend a couple of hours in the Cool Zone, so Owen and I took advantage of that to enjoy an adult drink and conversation.

Sunday was a much better day for Owen’s back pain so we rode the tram into Beach Station.  First item on the agenda was the Luge!  – we all had a couple of go’s on the luge.  First it was a ski life ride up to the top – our ride’s were attached underneath us.  My stomach dipped a couple of times riding this and we were not that high up!!  What a rush on the Luge!  There were 2 runs down, and once we had completed one, we were back on the ski life to do the other run!  Isabelle rode with me and Oliver rode with Owen on the first run, and on the second run, Isabelle wanted to do it by herself so Oliver rode with me.  As it requires a little arm strength to control the brake and turn capabilities, half way down the second run, Isabelle had enough and rode the rest of it with Owen.

Beach Station

Beach Station

The ski lift ride to the Luge run

The ski lift ride to the Luge run (seen from the top of the Merlion)

Waiting for ride number 2!

Waiting for ride number 2!

Finishing the Luge!

Finishing the Luge!

Too cool!

Too cool!

After the Luge, we rode the tram up to the next stop where the Singapore Merlion is.  We all climbed the Merlion and took photos from the top – you could see all of Sentosa from there, including Universal Studios!  We all stood in the Merlions mouth for more photos and discovered that it actually has 16 teeth and not 4 that you can see from below!    We took a leisurely walk back to Beach Station and then caught the tram back to the hotel.  After another lovely dinner, the kids begged to go back to Cool Zone so Owen and I had another lovely evening enjoying a couple of cocktails before we collected them at bedtime!

Playing with the Octopus outside the Merlion

Playing with the Octopus outside the Merlion

Sitting in the fish outside the Merlion

Sitting in the fish outside the Merlion

Sitting on the water feature by the Merlion

Sitting on the water feature by the Merlion

The Merlion

The Merlion

The Legend of the Merlion

The Legend of the Merlion

In the mouth of the Merlion

In the mouth of the Merlion and pretending to be roaring lions!

The beautiful sculpture seen from the top of the Merlion

The beautiful sculpture seen from the top of the Merlion

The kids loved this water sculpture

The kids loved this water sculpture

The sand sculptures at Beach Station were wonderful

The sand sculptures at Beach Station were wonderful

On Monday morning we booked the kids into the Cool Zone as Owen and I wanted to do iFly (skydiving inside) but it was fully booked!  So we took a leisurely walk along the beach and relaxed by the pool for the rest of the morning until it was time to collect the kids.  Once we picked them up, we went straight to Mega Zip which is most definitely the longest Zip line I have ever seen and…. OMG what an experience!!!!  Soooooo much fun.  Isabelle was scared at the top so we told the guys just let us go and once we were on our way she enjoyed it.  Owen and Oliver went down together and Isabelle and I went together…..

Waiting to do the Mega Zip line ride

Waiting to do the Mega Zip line ride – it is very high and the kids were a little nervous!

On our way down the Mega Zip line

On our way down the Mega Zip line – Weeeeeeeee……..

Hanging about at Silosa Beach

Hanging about at Silosa Beach

More swim and slides time at the pool when we got back.  After dinner, the kids again, begged to go back to the Cool Zone.  Owen and I had always thought that kids club were dumping grounds for parents who did not want to spend time with their kids – it never occurred to us that the kids would actually beg to do it!!  When we passed by the window (on the way to enjoy another evening cocktail!), they were both wrapping one of the workers in toilet roll like a mummy!   They have had so much fun at this resort – we would definitely come back and it is highly recommended.

Tuesday meant an early breakfast as our taxi was coming at 9:00 to take us to the airport for our flight to Kuantan in Malaysia.  Singapore airport is a lovely airport – clean, spacious, lots of lovely shops, big play area for kids and best of all, the x-ray machines are by each gate!  What a fabulous idea to reduce long security lines!  It was an uneventful short 1 hour flight on a little prop jet plane.

The lovely Shangri-La Resort at Sentosa, Singapore

The lovely Shangri-La Resort at Sentosa, Singapore

Train to Hangzhou

On Wednesday night I travelled by train from Shanghai to Hangzhou.  I was very nervous I was going by myself and was not even sure on the pronunciation of Hangzhou to ensure that I ended up on a train going to the right place!!
Driver Fu dropped me off outside the station, which is clean (smoke free – amazing in China, where you can still smoke almost everywhere), modern, easy to navigate and super efficient.   Once through the security (x-ray for me and luggage, but not as rigorous as at the airport) it was off to find somewhere to buy a ticket.  I had looked up train times online – here is the best timetable and related information!  www.chinatrainguide.com. For all it’s efficiency, I was frustrated to find that tickets can only be bought online 3 days in advance.
Everyone had warned me that the station would be busy as it is just a few days before a National Holiday (Golden Week) and that everyone would be travelling.  But, I only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes and the station is so open that I was surprised by the lack of people.
About 5 minutes before departure, the gates opened and everyone was allowed down to the platform. Watching the train come into the station was quite the experience as it seemed to go on for ever! I think it was the longest train I had ever seen before. I did not realise on the outward journey that I actually had an assigned seat in a carriage (I could not read the ticket!!) I just got on and sat in an open seat – and the carriage was quite empty. Watching the train come in, I could see that there were several buffet carriages, and a couple of different classes – I had booked the cheapest ticket. Even the cheap seats were spacious and comfortable. (The UK could learn a lot from this train service!!). And, one of the coolest things was a special foot pedal that turned the row around 180 degrees, so if you were travelling as a family, you could face each other!
The station at Hangzhou was not as modern or clean as Shanghai, but still easy to navigate around. Straight into the taxi queue to make my way to my hotel and here was my first issue of the night….. the taxi driver did not understand “Dragon hotel”! It was a good job I had a local contact on speed dial so she could explain to the taxi driver where I needed to go!
This trip was for me to present at a conference – another first for me in China. It was strange to be presenting in a room full of people listening to me talk through headphones! My presentation was simultaneously translated into Chinese so all reactions were slightly delayed. My colleague said that I had great praise after I had finished (but I guess I will never know for sure!!)
The train ride back to Shanghai was a different experience again. It was VERY busy and now I had to take my assigned seat! Lots of people travelling to be with family for Mid Autumn Festival and National Holiday. It was a little bit confusing trying to connect with driver Fu as the station in Shanghai is huge with 4 different exits. Eventually I found him and made it back home.
The train experience was so good, that Owen and I are now thinking about this for our trip to Chengdu in November.

What the mice did…..

The Ex-pat community in Shanghai appears to evaporate during the Summer school holidays.  Once we realized that Isabelle & Oliver’s friends would all be in their various home countries for 2 months, and that I had a huge amount of travel for work during July, we decided that the UK might be a better place to be for an extended time.

On July 9th Owen, Isabelle and Oliver flew to London for 5 weeks of British living.  The plan included me meeting them at the beginning of the August for a week of sanity before returning to China.

Owen, Isabelle and Oliver started at Grandma and Grandad’s.  While there they surprised Owen’s Grannie at her 95th birthday celebration – she was thrilled!  It was off to Auntie Kim for a few days before heading to Owen’s Mum and Stepdad’s house in Wales.  A lovely week was spent there with several days at the beach.

Fun at the Beach in Wales!

Fun at the Beach in Wales!  Fantastic boat built by Daddy.

Auntie Kim joined them in Wales too for more fun at the beach and with family.  They were lucky with the weather and had some gorgeous sunshine:

Chilling at the beach in Wales

Chilling at the beach in Wales

On the way back to Grandma and Grandad’s, they stopped off at Peter & Emma’s. Isabelle and Oliver love playing with their cousins, Maeve and Oscar, especially because when the weather is so good and they could enjoy huge ice-creams.

The boys getting mucky

The boys getting mucky

The girls getting sticky

The girls getting sticky

Once back at G&G’s, it was days out at the park, feeding the ducks and shopping – some normal British things to do in the summer.  They visited good friends John & Andrea and their kids and also Sandra & Mark and their kids, but other than that it was time to relax a little.

I missed them all dreadfully.  I have not been apart from my children for that long before and I do not want to do it again.

Travel Woes – update

We finally took off and arrived in Beijing at 3.00am.  However, none of the passengers on our flight had their luggage, including me.  I had travelled in jeans, t-shirt and flip flops – not the attire for business meetings!  I thought that my bag would make it the next day, but no such luck.  I was in Beijing for a large customer conference and many of our very Senior Executives had travelled to China to attend this.  I had met some colleagues in the convention hotel bar and to my dismay, most of these Execs were in the same bar.  I am now at the end of Day 2 wearing the same outfit (and flip flops) and not exactly dressed for Executive interaction.  However, after explaining my predicament, no-one held it against me!

Still no sign of my bag and Cathay Pacific were so unhelpful with no opinion on where my bag was, never mind when it would be delivered.  So, off to the mall for some shopping for me.  Everything was so expensive and I needed so much for just a few days – make up, toiletries, underwear, shoes and a couple of outfits.  The worst thing was not being able to find any shoes that fit me and I do not have big feet!!  I ended up spending 3 times more than I have ever spent on a pair of shoes.  Even worse…… they are so uncomfortable and I am not sure I will wear them very much!!!!

Finally, on Day 4 (at 2.00am, so just about Day 4) there is a knock on my hotel door to let me know that my bag has been delivered.  Thank goodness, my feet would have some relief with my favourite comfy shoes.

Perhaps this is a lesson to not check a bag when travelling. 🙂

Travel woes

This has certainly been an interesting 24 hours.  I flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong yesterday afternoon.  The flight was delayed because of a Typhoon in the Hong Kong area.  When we finally arrived, we were parked out on the tarmac and the flight crew had to give everyone plastic macs to de-plane, which we did into a T8 gale and fierce rain!  It took over an hour for my luggage to come through on the carousel and then I got told that the wait for taxi’s would be over 2 hours.  I decided to brave the train system and 1 hour after that, finally made it to the hotel – 1.30am!

This morning I got a message from the customer that I was suppposed to be meeting, that we were now cancelled because of the Typhoon (everything shuts down in Hong Kong when it gets to a T8+ status, and it reached a T10 last night).  I am only in Hong Kong for that meeting!!!!  The rain was so heavy last night that it sounded like hail against my 28th floor hotel room windows.  The wind was howling and shaking the building…….

I decide to work from the hotel room this morning and then I get a text from the airline informing me that my flight to Beijing this afternoon has been cancelled.  I immediately call our Travel Help desk and they re-book me on a later flight but I decide that I will probably have more luck at the airport (with prior USA experience of being a seasoned air traveller).  Little did I know that the experience of being a frequent flier in the USA does NOT compare to Asia.  At least in America, they are quick to give updates and do that frequently to calm the angry, travel weary person. 

As soon as I arrived at the airport I was booked onto a 3.15pm flight (along with a travelling colleague).  However, as soon as we had moved through security and customs clearance we saw that our flight was cancelled.  (We both have checked bags on that flight).  I have been sitting in Hong Kong airport all afternoon and been transferred to 2 different flights (I have no idea where my bag is at this point).  The desk is so unhelpful because the Airport Authority here do not update their systems!!!!!  So, none of the helpful American style updates here!  Michele and I have been to the desk twice each so far and get different stories each time!  I have witnessed the worst in human behavior with extreme yelling, screaming, crying and threatening physical abuse.  I have to admire the staff across the board for keeping their cool in the midst of all that anger and emotion – these are the times when it must really suck to be in customer service. 

We decided to camp out in DragonAir’s club lounge thinking we would not see so much of the yelling and screaming, but it doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be obnoxious people.

I don’t think I will make it out of here tonight.  I am contemplating booking myself into a hotel and trying again tomorrow.  What a wasted trip all round……