Tag Archives: Food

Hainan – Sanya

hainanWe got to¬†visit the Sanya area of the Hainan Island, the most southern part of China–“their Hawaii”, we found a gem in the China Pacific, the the Pullman Sanya Hotel Resort on Yalong Bay. Yes! We arrived on Friday, May 4th and departed on Tuesday, May 8th. Some of our criteria for finding our dream resort was access to beach (walking from room to beach preferable), an affordable price, clean, good food and a great pool. Our greatest desire was to be able to eat, play, sleep and swim all from an attractive resort. Our thoughts were, why would we come to Sanya to sight see with 30 degrees Celsius with 92+ in humidity, clear blue water and light sand? I have always dreamed of being able to walk from my hotel room to the beach and being able to see my feet in the ocean water.

At this resort, my dream wasn’t perfect, but the short ride, few minutes on what they call ‘the buggy’, which is a electric super-sized golf cart, took us to an amazing beach with tasty food and drink bar, hammocks and lounging chairs. The water was clear and a warm 27 degrees Celsius, the service was nice and the beach was everything we had hoped for and we did not miss having foot access to the beach. Kids had a blast surfing the waves in with a body board we purchased for 100rmb from the shop at the hotel and catching little light colored crabs on the beach. Our beach, which was shared with the Ritz Carlton and Hilton Hotels, does get little moon jellyfish. They are clear with purple/blue tentacles. We had the luck of swimming with a few of them while there. The sting was not bad, but having Basil Oil from Young Living (yes, the spice) on hand back at the room was a winner and calmed the sting and itch.

We booked our Thai Villa with the same .com company we purchased our inexpensive flight tickets from. I read over and over in the reviews to get the Thai Villa. So we did. Oh my, were they right. It was the best decision on the trip and it was surprisingly affordable. The whole darn trip: Flight, room, drinks and food, was less than it would cost for the five us of to fly to Hawaii. And where in Hawaii, could we afford, even one nights stay in a villa? The Villa had two buildings, a very large pool, a gazebo resting area, two lounge chairs and a gate as a front door with a little garden too. The main building had the massive bathroom with two showers–indoor and outdoor and a Jacuzzi big enough for four and master bedroom with walk in closet, couch and sliding door access right into the pool. The other had a sitting room with a small mini bar–sink and dining table. For us, this building was rearranged to house the kids. Two twin beds were brought in and a bed was made on the couch for the other. It worked out well. The rooms were clean, air-conditioned and well maintained by the staff. The few times a day we went to get a meal or go to the beach, we would call for a buggy. We figured the call, alerted the staff the Villa needed cleaning because we would return to a fresh towels, made beds and new items in the bathroom.

We ate at the Bar, American Grill, Chinese and the Buffet. All were good. The Bar was great for lunch time. They offered sandwiches, pizza and a yummy iced mango tea–the kids and I could not get enough of. We had an late lunch one day over a dinner. The American Grill was very tasty and a nice treat since we have been living in China for a long time. Grilled chicken & steak with the bread and fresh veggies were our favorites. The Chinese restaurant serves all kinds of dishes from lots of areas in China. We enjoyed the Sichuan food. We are all fond of spicy. Bonus, the food in this restaurant was more affordable than the Buffet. No endless dessert though, Briana was sad. The Buffet was great for dinner and breakfast. Breakfast was included in the room rate and the dinner themes varied: One night Seafood, the next BBQ, etc. The breakfast is very filling. We found ourselves eating the Chinese breakfast foods over the American style. Funny how our taste buds have changed over time here in China.

The kids’ favorite part in the morning was to go out to the pond and feed the fish the bread in the basket. Wild eaters and fun to watch, those fish were. With the heat, we found a good breakfast and a dinner was all we needed each day with some drinks down at the beach. The hotel had three main pools. With our pool at the Villa, we found we did not want to hang around the main pools of the hotel.

The Thai Villa was by far the best part of this whole experience. The pool is large, warm and so amazing to swim in anytime of the day or night. We practically lived in it the entire time. I think we all would have slept in it if we could have since it was a wonderful temperature and size for the five of us. Ours was the best causing us to pinch ourselves often and rub our eyes in disbelief to how amazing our time here was. We kept wondering, is this real? What a way to end our stay here in China! Ending with a dream fulfilled. Thanks, Mike! Enjoy the photos…

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Huangshan – Road Trip!!

roadtripMike is feeling really good about driving, so he was up to driving a good distance from Suzhou.

The Yellow Mountains, called ‘Huangshan’ in Chinese, for a couple days and a day in Hangzhou became our plan for the holiday weekend of the April 28th through May 1st. Chinese have so many holidays. Two days off here, three there… it’s great! We left on Saturday to make sure we had plenty of daylight to get to our destination.

As always, there’s humor on the roadway. In the gallery, check out the photo of a truck driving down the freeway at 40mph+ with a broken front axle and a massive load of cargo. Mike laughed his head off for a long time over that. I also took photos of a wedding motorcade. This is how all wedding couples get around.

Once we were about one hour from our hotel, we took a scenic route on a new freeway that wasn’t even on Google Maps. One of the tourist guide books recommended an ancient, little city to visit called Shexian, actually called Huizhuo for hundreds of years until just recently they have been trying unsuccessfully to change its name. Sadly, the ancient parts are mostly destroyed to make way for big buildings. (And why they building the big buildings will remain a mystery as they all stay empty because no one will come to a town that has nothing to see.)

We did find a haunting pagoda in bad need of repair. The grounds surrounding it were terribly neglected too. Mike, Briana, and Zachary found a sneaky way (a no go zone) into the stairwell that led to the top of the pagoda. Zachary was freaked when they got back due to the lack of stairwell, narrow steps, his large feet, all the dead bats, bat dung and such. He shook for a while once they got back down. A day or two later, he said it was worth it. A local stayed with Zachary and was even willing to carry him down.

Off note, I repeat myself often, but my, these people are so caring and wonderful compared to most of people in the US. Daily we met new people always willing to help out, laugh with, etc. We will miss them. We arrived at our hotel while it was still daylight out. After checking in the hotel, we took off on foot to find a good place to eat and see the city. The town of Tangkou was were we spent at the base of the mountain range. Thank goodness the hotel did not live up to the way the town looked. Oh my… what utter filth! We got lucky. Our hotel was clean… tight for us five in one room, but very doable. We do love each other, so it works.

We did find a good place to eat based on a recommendation in one of the tourist books I have and a local who spoke a bit of English. The restaurant help could speak broken English too and was the only ones to help us figure out how to get up the mountain. And the food was grubbin’! So good we came back the following night for seconds.

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Beijing – On our way to Beijing for Chinese New Year Week…

Since Mike had a week off from the office in Suzhou due to Chinese New Year Holiday week, we decided to take the high speed rail to Beijing and spend the week there sightseeing.

The US needs to get busy and get the high speed rail up and going in the US. It is the only way to travel; very smooth, comfortable and on-time. Our trip to Beijing would have been like us driving to Disneyland in California. Instead of 18+ hours on the road, we got to sit back and arrive in only five hours. We barely got comfortable, watched a movie and the train was pulling into Beijing. This was the first time we had used Suzhou’s Newest Train Station in the North. It was a total fiasco trying to get there between not being able to find it on Google maps, trying to get a taxi and then trusting our sweet Taxi Angel to get us to it. Which she did! We know every time things get ‘Murphy Lawed’, we just ask for an Angel to come and bail us out. So far, it has work every single time and that is a lot of times. Angels are everywhere if you just ask for their help. Thank goodness because we are known to put ourselves in the quite the situations that would push the average person overboard. ūüėČ

We were under the impression, Chinese New Year was a great time to travel to Beijing since over seven million out of the 19 million leave the city to celebration New Year’s at home. DO NOT plan to travel rail during this time of the year unless you are using a reliable travel agency in China or have a friend, like our’s (Thanks, Lin!), to book your travel. Without Lin, there was no way this would have been a possible trip for us. The high speed trains sound like jets flying past. They are incredibly noisy inside the train station. So much so, a person could use ear plugs to try and drown out the sound, but it would not work. Mike took this video of our train coming into the station. As it arrives, another train (which you can’t see, but you can hear) barrels by…

Have you ever used TripAdvisor.com? We have a few times now and have not been steered wrong yet. The #2 rated hotel out of over 3,000 in Beijing was this little place located in the Hutongs of Beijing. I had done my homework and knew what we were getting ourselves into, but Mike and the kids did not. Mike about died when the driver dropped us off, at night, in this alley way and pointed to a three foot wide path. The kids were freaking out. It was late, dark, fireworks were going off everywhere and it felt like we were just dumped off to be pillaged and killed. I just laughed. Each one of us had our own backpack with no luggage. We have gotten good at packing light. (I am the only one with two packs: clothes with computer for downloading photos and my camera bag.) So we put our packs on and headed down the tiny, dark walkway. At the end, was a door with “THE ORCHID” written on the wall over the top of it. With a push of an intercom button and our name, we gained entrance into a tiny oasis, amongst all the dark,¬†dinginess¬†of the outside. Wow!

What a neat place to stay! It was originally a home for a large family. Joel had purchased it and created hotel-like rooms in each of the little areas and in-between all the rooms are breeze ways with gardens, including access to the top where you can see all around. (It was too darn cold for us to hang out at the top. At 7 degrees F at night and early morning, we could barely get upstairs to the kitchen for breakfast before freezing.) Each room has its own bathroom and was heated by radiant floor heat. Very European in style. Beds were made of a Tempurpedic type foam, the shower never ran out of hot water and he had Apple TV in each room with 100s of movies available to watch. Heaven! Since we were five, we had two separate rooms. Zachary and I took the smallest one and Mike, Briana and Nathan took the largest. Joel provided yummy breakfast in the morning, serving incredible coffee and hot chocolate drinks and was very helpful with arranging tickets and travel to any spot in the area we wanted to go. We were starving when we got in, so Joel sent us back out down the dark alley to a hole in the wall that serves Hunan Food.

Note: What we did not realize, is that Beijing was originally made up of Hutongs, little alleyways that were only one to two stories high and no more than one to two small cars wide. It’s what makes Beijing so darn neat; gives it charm.¬†Most of the Hutongs are destroyed now and what few are left are protected by the government. Our hotel is located in one of the protected Hutongs. No better place to stay than to be right in the middle of it all. Great place. Highly recommend it.

Back to the Hunan Food… Wow! We had never ate something so hot in our lives. It put the hottest Sichuan food to shame. We loved it! Even though it was so blasted hot, we could still taste the food. But once you stop eating, the pain! Hot soup took care of that. It was so¬†fantastic, we did return the next night to eat some more. (Since we have been home, Nathan complain regularly that his¬†Jalapeno¬†chips aren’t hot anymore.¬†Hmm, wonder why?)

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Suzhou – Algas Dinner Celebration for Chinese New Year

Since Chinese New Year is the main holiday of the year, the company celebrates with a dinner, gives a little money away for good luck and prosperity to their employees, and the employees receive a full week off for holiday. This dinner we celebrated at a Japanese restaurant. The Saki was much more¬†palatable¬†over the Chinese wine. We were joined by Paul Carpenter, an Algas board member, who was in from Rockford, IL visiting Algas’s parent company, Ecplise. The kids and I enjoyed his company. Thanks, Paul! As usual, it was a good time.

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Suzhou – Thanksgiving in China

We had a tasty Turkey Dinner at Ollie’s English Pub with Paul and Miki…

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