Archive for travelasia

The One Where They Tried to Scam Me

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

In December of 2010, I made a very quick (and very rainy) trip to Shanghai.

Oriental Pearl Tower in the Mist

Wikipedia says, “Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People’s Republic of China and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.”  That being said, I didn’t find it too crowded or uncomfortable.  Maybe that’s because the weather was yucky the whole time and people were hiding indoors.

A very empty People’s Square

To tell the story of my trip, I’m going to go out of chronological order and tell the story of my near-scam first.  After that I’ll share the nicer highlights of Shanghai.

One of the most popular things to do in Shanghai is to walk along the Bund and view the skyline at Pudong.  Despite the rain, I trudged through the business district from my hostel to the Huangpu river to catch a gray and misty view of Shanghai’s famous skyscraper skyline.

At the hostel, there had been warnings posted on the bulletin board.  Handwritten notes said, “If someone offers to take you to a tea house- SAY NO- It’s scam.”  This piqued my curiosity but didn’t over concern me, so I set off towards the Bund.

On the way, I saw this AWESOME Chinglish sign.

While looking at the limited view of the buildings, a group of three Chinese tourists approached me and asked me to take their picture.  I obliged, of course, and then one of the girls started asking me a bunch of questions.  “Where do I come from?” “How long do I stay in Shanghai?” “Do I like China?” etc.  I barely had time to answer a question before she was asking another.  She said they were students from Xian and studying English.  After a few minutes of intense questioning, she asked me to go to a teahouse.  I said no that I don’t drink tea and hightailed it out of there.

Initially, I was shocked and appalled!  First, I hate being seen as a target. I’m a traveler, a woman of the world! I’m supposed to be better than that.  However, I am whitey-white-white-white and I guess that can mean “easy mark” to some people.

And then I was pissed, I should have done something.  I should have stalked them and prevented them from talking to anyone else.  I should have yelled and caused a scene.  I should have done something more than just walk away and let me move on to someone more gullible.

Later back at the hostel I googled (well, yahoo searched because google is banned) the “Shanghai Tea House Scam” to see what the deal is.  Basically, if I had gone with them to the tea house, I would have been served some decent tea at super-inflated prices and been expected to pay for their tea as well.  Other tourists have ended up with bills of $200 to $500 USD when clearly no tea should cost that much.

Luckily I dodged the scam.  I don’t even like tea anyway.

What a view, eh?

My trip to Shanghai wasn’t all the bad.  I had a nice drink at the original Blue Frog bar (only important because the Macau branch was a popular hangout when I lived there).

Armed with my trusty umbrella, I also saw a lot of the city on foot.

A welcoming shrubbery

Trash collection bikes

No visit to Shanghai would be complete without the obligatory stop at the Shanghai Museum.  It’s huge, it’s free and it’s filled with all manors of cool Chinese art (bronze, ceramic, stamps, jade, etc).   It can be a challenge to take it in at your own pace because the Chinese tourists stop and take a photo of every single object.  I’m sure they thought I was crazy because I only took pictures of the pieces of genuinely liked.

The Shanghai Museum- even the building is art.  It’s shaped like a ding (bronze vessel).

A favorite ding from inside the museum. Too bad the building doesn’t look like this one…

Some other highlights.

See more photos from the Shanghai Museum and the rest of Shanghai here.

Read more about my other Asian Winter Odyssey travels here.

Try Taipei

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

My first solo expedition of my Asian Winter Odyssey was my brief stay in Taipei, Taiwan.  Now, let me tell you, I LOVED Taipei.  It is clean and efficient.  Even though it’s crowded, the people are orderly and polite.  Honestly, before moving to Asia I had an image in my mind of “what Japan would be like.”  Now having visited Japan and Taiwan, I can tell you that Taiwan is what I thought Japan would be like and Japan is ten million times MORE than what I thought.

Harvey Milk

I am not ashamed to admit that my first destination in Taipei was the Hello Kitty Cafe.  It’s so very Hello Kitty.  Everything is pink and adorned with bows.  It was so kitsch, I could not resist.

My Hello Kitty iced coffee with Hello Kitty coffee ice cubes, Hello Kitty tiramisu with macaroon and white chocolate cone with Hello Kitty sticker.
And for dessert…

Seriously, I didn’t order the Hello Kitty jello.  They simply brought it to me after I had finished the coffee and the dessert with two sides of dessert that I had ordered.  Actually I only ordered the tiramisu and the coffee, the macaroon and chocolate cone were complimentary side dishes.

After my sugar-overloaded lunch, I wandered through the artist district enjoying parks and galleries.

And a weird yellow cow
At the AIR (Artist in Residence)

If I were an actual artist, I would SO apply for a residency at this place.  AIR Taiwan.

I was fortunate enough to be visiting during the Taipei Flora Expo.  It a huge international event featuring beautiful flowers from around the world as well as eco-friendly innovations and fashion.

A cactus for La Femme Cactus

Nifty wall planter things
Huh?

My favorite part was the EcoArk, a huge building made entirely of recycled water bottles!

I also did the super-cheesy-but-totally-worth-it visit to the top of Taipei 101.  No, it’s not the world’s tallest building anymore but it’s still pretty cool.

First off, it’s shaped like BAMBOO!
The view
Fun facts
The world’s only visible damper
What could be cuter? Damper Baby

My final tourist destination was Maokong via the Maokong Gondola.

View of Taipei 101 from Maokong

See more photos of Taipei here.

Weekly Travel Themes: Benches

Posted in Life in Singapore, new york, Travel Asia, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

I have to say thank you to my friend Luc, who prompted me to write a new blog post.  It’s been ages and I have no good excuse other than laziness.  So merci, Luc!  No more laziness for me!

Anyway, I’ll offer another segment of Weekly Travel Theme and this week it’s Benches. I am particularly inspired by this theme because my favorite way to see a new city is to walk.  I often set off with no direction and just wander and watch.  Benches provide a wonderful resting point during my travels.  I’ve sat upon some beautiful benches in beautiful spots.

Get on the bench. The banana bench. Prague, Czech Republic.

Even Rubber Ducky needs a rest in Dublin, Ireland.

A very welcoming bench in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey.

Aya and Sita save a spot for me at Lou Lim Ieoc Park in Macau.

This bench tells it like it is in Naples, Italy.

Dragon bench in Bruges, Belgium.

Don’t mind if I do in Singapore. (I think this is the ONLY graffitied bench in all of Singapore)

Dali’s lip bench in Berlin, Germany.

Comfortable? In Hangzhou, China.

A Gaudi-esque mosaic bench at Grant’s Tomb in NYC.

The real deal in Barcelona, Spain.

and lastly…

Not exactly a bench…but freaking cool. Marshall poses with “Blue Guy Sitting”*

* part of “The Art of the Brick” exhibit by Nathan Sawaya at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.

Travel theme: Multiples

Posted in Travel Asia, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

Another contribution to Where’s My Backpack’s Weekly Travel Themes, Multiples.

Multiple scorpions, bugs and unidentified creatures on sticks ready for deep frying in Hangzhou, China

Many mini Buddhas in Tokyo, Japan

Origami cranes at the Killing Fields in Cambodia

Young coconuts in Boracay, Philippines (yummy)

Several prayer wheels at the Sakya Monastery in Tibet

Candles at the Duomo of Milano, Italy

Larger than life lily pads in Uppsala, Sweden

One of the best April Fool’s Day pranks ever. My office covered in little yellow rubber duckies. (Lint, Belgium)

Multiple Marshmallows for rehearsal at Blue Man Group at Astor Place, NYC

In Amsterdam…can’t entirely say how many goldfish there actually were…

Multiples at the Playa at Burning Man 2007

Oranges in NYC