Shangha-I Love You

We were invited once again to watch the NBA pre season game in Shanghai China and since the Warriors were playing, my husband just couldn’t say no.

We were first in Shanghai last October 2015 and as we were planning our trip, i could not seem to remember much of that trip which was just 2 years ago! So it was like going to Shanghai for the first time, fortunately for you and for those who are asking and are planning to visit Shanghai, I documented most of the things we did this time, where we went, what we ate, how we got around and loads of useful travel tips!

First off the list- if you’re a Philippine Passport holder, you need a Chinese Visa. It’s quite easy, you can opt to have a travel agency help you with your application or you can do it yourself and save some money (this is what we did).

Visa Chinese Embassy Link Click this link, to find out what requirements you need and how and where to submit it.

Tip: China Eastern airlines offered the best deal during the time we booked plus the flight times are the best as we were able to maximize our days in Shanghai. As for accomodations, you can book at booking.com and choose accomodations that you can cancel 24 hours before you arrive incase you change your mind.

Now that’s ticked off the list. Here are other things you need to do before your trip to China:

  • Download the following applications in your iphone or smart phone that will be very useful for your trip:
  1. Betternet– You need this app inorder to browse through Facebook & Instagram, as these social media apps are blocked in China.
  2. Metro Shanghai – a map of Shanghai’s subway
  3. Google Translate– For your Chinese translation needs! (Don’t forget to download the ‘Simple Chinese’ so you can use it even when your off the internet. It’s important to know a few basic Chinese Phrases.
  4. Ofo (Bicycle) -you’ll need this app if you plan to use one of the bikes scattered around Shanghai.
  5. We chat– The locals use this as their facebook/ viber/ wallet/ for everything! So it might be useful to have it just incase.
  • Have your hotel address ready and printed to show to your taxi driver if you have not pre-arranged transportation from the airport to your hotel

Day 1 We arrived at 8am and just took a taxi (there are a lot of english signs at the airport) going to our hotel (Riverview Hotel on the Bund, booked at booking.com) which is located in the Bund area, (taxi meter: 200 Yuan or P1500) we were able to check in at 1030am which is unusual for most hotels and we were quite grateful as we were able to rest and refresh before we started our day.

We then walked around the Bund area. The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai.

Our friends who are English teacher’s in Shanghai then took us to Tian Zi Fang and we loved it! It was a good a place to have a ‘food trip’ and do a little bit of shopping. You can find all kinds of weird and new things to eat such as the ‘stinky tofu’ and the ‘smoky cookie’ Check my IG for videos you can also find a lot of talented artists who can carve your face into a stone, make a sculpture of anyone you want and more, just be ready to squeeze in as there are always a lot of people here and the alleys are quite small.

Tip: Remember not to exhaust yourself too much, decide on where you want to go and what you want to see but don’t pressure yourself to tick off your ‘To See, or To Go List’. Enjoy your vacation, take lots of photos and relax!

Day 2 And that was exactly what we did, we had plans but we were not bound to it. On our second day, we started after lunch, took the subway to meet our friend who took us to an outlet where we didn’t really getto buy anything.

Tip: Don’t shop in China for anything branded as it is more expensive than anywhere else, but if you do, you can have a tax refund at the airport. Make sure to bring your passport and go to Customer Services in outlets to get your form which you will use to redeem at the airport.

After walking around the shops, we decided to go to Thames Town. It is named after the River Thames in London, United Kingdom. The architecture is themed according to classic British market town styles. There are cobbled streets, Victorian terraces and corner shops. It felt like we were in another country.

We then took a taxi to have dinner at Sichuan Citizen restaurant in the former French Concession area where everything is sooo hot! Including marco! Hahaha. But really, the main ingredient here I think is chilli! Food was really great though!

Day 3 On our 3rd day, we explored Shanghai on our own. We took the subway! Our friends very generously lended us their subway card. Download ‘Shanghai METRO’ app and you’ll quickly learn and realize it’s really quite easy. From our hotel, we walked to Line 9 which took us about 9 minutes. We decided to go the ‘Fake Market’ (AP Plaza as it’s known) is just located in station ‘Shanghai Science & Technology Museum’ in Line 2.

Aaaahhhh, it was soooo much fun! We were there quite early and the vendors were still very energetic and friendly.. be ready to haggle because it’s so much fun! If they say 1000 Yuan, say ‘How about, 100?’ Always start very low and never go over 50% of the price they gave and don’t feel bad for them, it’s all acting and they will never sell their merchandise without a profit! And they also enjoy bargaining with you so go ahead and get those haggling skills out.

We took the subway again (we felt like locals at this point) to go to the NBA Fans Appreciation Day in Oriental Sports Center

Got back to the hotel with just an hour to prepare for the NBA Shanghai Game Welcome Dinner at Roosevelt House. (The Roosevelt House and Sky Bar offers one of the best views of Shanghai’s Skyline, located in 72nd the Bund) We had a great Date Night here!

Day 4 We wished we discovered how these Bicycles worked on day one! It would have saved us a lot of time walking! Anyways when you go to Shanghai, you will notice a lot (and I mean a lot!) of Bicycles parked everywhere! And they are all for rent. You can get them anywhere and leave them anywhere too! There are a lot of brands, but Ofo is the only one that accepts mastercard for payment and deposit. So deposit is 199Yuan, which you can get back right away and 1 hour use is only 1 Yuan! Which is P7! And there were times we only used it for half an hour and we were n’t charged at all!

We rode around the area of our hotel and later in the afternoon, went to another fake market (which I will not tell you where as I don’t recommend going there!) we tried the Ramen Burger at ‘Oh My Burger’ in Jianguo Xi Lu and went to this cute little cafe called ‘Cafe Fay’ that prints any picture you want on your drink!

Our last day did not end there! The reason we came to Shanghai was to watch the Warriors play! And it truly was a memorable experience! Ang gwapo ni Curry! Kilig na kilig si Marco!

Tip: Don’t forget to switch off Cellular Data in your phone if you don’t want unwanted Roaming charges by your Network .You may also want to buy a local sim card with data at the airport in Shanghai once you arrive so you can have reliable internet connection throughout your trip as our local network’s roaming plan often failed us.

By the way here are other photos of places we visited in Shanghai 2 years ago. Check it out on our facebook page

www.facebook.com/TheAlcaraz

Hope this write up helps you plan your trip, if you have other tips or travel advise or want to share your travel stories, please do share them in the comments section or send me an email.

Ate, (ate so much!) Prayed and Loved in Bali

The whole month of October had been a very busy month. I was working almost everyday. And a week before November, my husband asked what my schedule was the coming week and I said, none. I didn’t quite believe him when he told me to tell my manager to block off the last week because we were going to Bali!

Bali!

I was super excited because my husband said, he’ll be paying for everything! (Kuripot ng asawa ko, kaya big deal ito) Also I have never been to Bali, Indonesia and was looking forward to sleeping and sunbathing by the beach! Yes, I thought Bali was all beaches and sun, so when my husband said 6 nights and 5 whole days- I told him, that’s too long and we’ll be too sun burnt to be recognized after 5 days!

But I was wrong, Bali- is more than just beaches… there was so much to do, so many places to explore, so much food to try and eat eat eat.. and best of all so many opportunities to experience and share God’s love to others!

Day 1 (Oct 26)

We (Marco and I and two of our friends- Gino and Reyson) arrived in Denpasar Airport at around 1am via PAL flight PR537 (left Manila, Oct 25 at 9PM) almost 4 hours flying time.

We exchanged money at the airport (as we’ve read about scams in small money changers around Bali) plus we need money for taxi. We were suddenly millionaires after exchanging just P10,000 (the exchange rate at that time was 1 PHP = 269.35 Indonesian Rupiah.) so that’s equivalent to 2,700,000 IDR!

Because it was late and there was not much taxis around, we agreed to pay the taxi driver 300k IDR fixed rate ‘according to him’. We later found out that we were scammed and we could have insisted on using the meter.

Transportation tips:

  •  Always ask the Taxi driver that you want to use the meter.
  • Uber and Grab taxi is available but not reliable as there are a lot of places that they are not allowed to drop off or pick up passengers
  • You can also book drivers beforehand if you are arriving during the day and plan to tour around. 8-10 hours = 500k IDR
  • Or you can rent scooters (there are many rentals available near most hotels) for 70k-150k IDR)

We stayed at the Tijili Hotel in Seminyak which is only 20 minutes away from the airport (we booked online through Agoda.com) please check my previous post about Tijili Hotel

We woke up at 9am to have breakfast at the hotel and decided to explore the area. It took us just 5 minutes to get to Seminyak Beach.

Seminyak Beach

Marco, me and Gino , Seminyak Beach

Seminyak Beach

enjoying a cool drink by Seminyak Beach

You can choose to walk by the beach or the side walks where you can find lots of interesting things to see and take pictures of.

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Colorful and Festive Seminyak Sidewalk

We then met with Reyson who was making preparations for his wedding in Uluwatu, Bali this January. He hired Ketut for the day and we tagged along with him. We had lunch at Campur Campur

  

We then went to Reyson and his bride’s wedding venue, Tirtha Bridal and were able to take some pretty pictures there too! it was such a lovely place by the cliff.

Tirtha Bridal, Uluwatu Bali

feeling naman namin kami ang ikakasal (mga inggetera)

Uluwatu temple was the next stop. And we all had to wear a sarong. There were available sarongs you can borrow as you enter the area of the temple,(but you can imagine how many people have already used it) So if this is going to be part of your itinerary, please make sure you bring your own.

Our Bali experience will not be complete without tasting the most expensive coffee inthe World. Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is made from coffee cherries excreted by Civets or Luwak then roasted and grounded and that gives it a unique, rich aroma and smooth flavor. Yes it’s poop coffee. Surprisingly good and strong. Marco was hyper for hours!

Luwak or Asian Palm Civet also called toddy cat

part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by luwaks aka ‘cat poo’

we were shown how they process the most expensive coffee beans in the world.

coffee and tea tasting

After ‘Coffee Poop’ Tasting we went back to Seminyak for another authentic Balinese for Dinner at Warung Made in Seminyak and took a stroll through the shops on our way back to the hotel.

Dinner at Warung Made with Marco, Gino, Ketut (our driver for the day) and Reyson

Day 2 (Oct 27)

We woke up early to have breakfast and decided to just take a metered taxi to Ubud. It took us about 2 hours and paid almost 300k IDR.

On our way to UBUD, once in a while we would pass by little temples and little Rubultos and then we saw a big one and I Sharing about God in the taxi ride when we saw a big rebulto

We checked into Bakung Resort and Villa (also booked through Agoda.com). It was quite far from the main road where the stores and shops were, but it was a very peaceful area as it was near rice fields and local villages. We rented a scooter (which costs 70k IDR for a day) and went to see Tegalalang Rice terraces (20 mins by scooter from Bakung Villa)

  

If you plan to visit this place, make sure you’re prepared to do some hiking (wear sneakers) bring bottled water, a small towel and lather on lots of insect repellant lotions and make sure your cameras are charged and have lots of memory.

Riding around the Bali countryside in a scooter.

We then went back to our hotel, had a quick shower and decided to try an authentic Balinese massage. (The Spas usually close at 9 or 10 PM, so make sure to go early and book beforehand) We then had a light Balinese Dinner.

Ubud Wellness Spa

Night Cap , Ubud, Bali

 

Day 3 (Oct 28)

The next day we woke up early, had breakfast, hired a van for the day that took us to the Tegenungan waterfalls and then back to Tijili Seminyak (600k IDR)

The falls was worth the exhausting down-up-down and up again trek. The water was really cool and refreshing. The view?- marvellous! We were just in awe of God’s wonderful creation.

the view of the falls from the top

  

Went back to Seminyak. Checked in back at Tijili, met with reyson and then Capt. Cha (who we just met at the plane flight to Bali) We had dinner at The Breeze, Samaya and we talked about Papa P., Governor, everything else and best of all God’s amazing love for us all.

Cheers to new friends and great great loving God!

Sunset View at The Breeze, Samaya Resort, Seminyak

Day 4

It was just the two of us as our friends left the night before so we decided to just chill and took pictures around tijili hotel. Lounged at the pool and then hired Nyoman to bring us to Padang Padang aka Julia Roberts Beach and then to Single Fin to watch the sunset, then ended the night with romantic Dinner by the beach.

  

While stuck in traffic, our driver Nyoman shared with us stories from his days working in a cruse ship and we somehow got to talking about religion and he told us that the new Governor of Jakarta- Ahok is a Christian who is very much liked by the people of Indonesia because he is very fair and just and not corrupt (our driver is a Hindu) and

I felt that God is going to do something amazing with Indonesia.

Truly those who follow Christ shines like a bright lamp in a world of darkness and people regardless of religious background can see the difference in our lives. I was able to share about Jesus to Nyoman, even though he seemed a bit upset and the subject was changed. I thanked God for giving us divine opportunities to share His love and I will continue to pray for Governor Ahok, Nyoman and the people of Indonesia.

Sunset Watching, Single Fins, Uluwatu

Romantic Seafood Dinner by the Beach. 


Day 5

We decided to keep our last day relaxed and decided to look for La Plancha Beach Club to have lunch, so we walked by the beach hand in hand, (we were told to look for colourful beanbags and umbrellas that would point us to La Plancha) so we did… kept walking for 30 minutes (I think more) – only to realise we have probably already missed it. Tired, thirsty, hungry and sun burnt- uminit na ang ulo ko at na direct kay Marco lahat. (it’s a good thing I have a very patient husband)

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Marco calling me sung-sung. Gutted na kaya ako!

 Processed with Snapseed.

So off we went, walked back some more (another 20 minutes) to find out it was actually just 8 minutes away from our hotel!

They don’t bring out the colourful bean bags and umbrellas until late afternoon which was how we missed it.

we got our beach chairs for 100k IDR for 2 hours!

You can rent beach chairs for 50k- 150k a day (depends on the season) for two or you can bring your own towel or blanket if you don’t want to spend for beach chairs.

Spent our last few hours in Bali at La Plancha Beach Club- people and sunset watching. With a choco milk shake for me and Bintang beer for Marco we reflected on how good God has been for allowing us to enjoy such a precious trip.

Terimah Kasi Bali! Ba-BALI-k kami 😍

 I hope you enjoyed reading about our Bali trip. If you have any questions about anything regarding this trip, do let me know!

Where happiness happened

A feast for the eyes and the senses.

The Tijili Hotel experience.

We arrived at Denpasar airport at around 2am. We were understandably exhausted from a late flight and were very eager to rest. I was quite nervous because we chose to book the hotel online simply based on some pictures, a few good reviews and of course the affordable room rates. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

But as we got down from the taxi, me, my husband and our friends looked at each other excitedly and knew we made the right decision to choose this hotel.

Even before we entered, we were greeted with the hotel’s name in a happy green glow against a gray bricked wall. The doors to the hotel were wide open and we were greeted with a very pretty lobby as we came in.

The colorful, cheerful and inviting lobby of Tijili Seminyak

Oh what a colorful sight it was!

It was definitely a feast for the eyes. I was no longer sleepy as I took in the creative and colorful interior. Everything looked happy and cheerful. We were given welcome drinks and some yummy cakes (which I did not expect given the time) 

My husband Marco with our friends Gino and Reyson

The few staff around at that time and as well as all others we met during our stay were all very friendly and always eager to help and assist.

I felt like a kid grinning at my husband as we walked into our room- I just knew we were going to have a very comfortable stay. Everything was so clean, new and tastefully decorated.

i love the green bathrobes, the whole cozy room- oh i can stay here all day!


We slept well that night in our soft soft bed and pillows and woke up excited to explore Bali. And as we entered the main lounge where the breakfast was served, everything looked even more cheerful in daylight.. it was all just too pretty for words! So allow our pictures to tell you instead.

We love how the lights and the color play out, we felt as if we were in a movie set.

 

  

Even the chairs were very ‘instagramic’. Every corner, every piece was pretty by itself and yet still complimented the whole boutique. 

We took photos everywhere!

There is also always- always a cool, refreshing breeze by the pool deck and the middle of the lounge. There are soft couches everywhere that I always felt tempted to just stay and read, that only the thought of seeing more of Bali stopped me.

The Breakfast selection is just perfect. All you need for a big breakfast to prepare you for a day of surfing and exploring is there.


What I also love about Tijili Hotel is that it is very close to the beach and the shops and restaurants (5 mins walk to the beach and less to the shops and restaurants) and yet it sits on the more quieter road of Seminyak. It was just in the perfect location.

The famous La Plancha beach club is just 8 minutes walk from the hotel

Our Bali trip is one memorable holiday made even more happier and beautiful because of our stay at Tijili Hotel, Seminyak.


-where happiness definitely happened.


Tijili Hotel, Jalan Drupadi 9, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Telephone no +623614741888

follow them on Twitter and Instagram


Watch out for my next post- “Ate (ate a lot), Prayed and Loved.” A post all about our trip to Bali.