Category: Travel

A little 2018 review

A little 2018 review

Happy New Year! Before kicking off the 2019 adventures, I thought I’d look back on 2018 a little.

The start of last year’s review also fits here really well: 2018, it’s been a crazy year!

January

We started the year in Germany with our first home trip. Back in Shanghai, I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of strawberry season. We also experienced our fist Shanghai winter and Thorben volunteered for a crochet charity. Our first trip of 2018 took us to cold and beautiful Harbin, where we almost froze but were amazed by the beautiful snow and ice sculptures.

February

For our first Chinese New Year we took a much anticipated trip to Australia! It was a fantastic vacation, I can’t really decide which part was my favorite: Snuggling a koala, exploring Kangaroo Island or maybe the outback?

March

At the beginning of March we returned from Australia, me with a little souvenir: pneumonia. I spent most of the month at home on the couch recovering.

April

Thankfully, I recovered in time for spring and got to see many beautiful flowers and blossoms in Shanghai. For Thorben’s birthday, we took a trip to Tokyo. We’d missed most of the cherry blossoms there but took comfort in the awesome food. The eating continued throughout the month at our first Shanghai Restaurant Week. I also got a little crafty at a screen printing class hosted by GGI, while Thorben visited Vietnam for his department outing.

May

Our second trip within China was to Nanjing over Labor day. In May, we also celebrated my birthday together with our first visitors, Thorben’s parents, with whom we also took a bike tour around Shanghai. Thorben started a new hobby in 2018 – archery tag – and played in a league in May.

June

In June, my parents came to visit and we checked out a few of the Shanghai sights: M50, Jing’An Temple, Yu Garden and some parks. I also visited another new place in China, Moganshan, with my department for our team outing. My sisters had a joint birthday party in the middle of the month, so I took a trip to Germany to surprise them.

July

The next trip to Germany, this time a business trip, was just a few weeks later. 10 days for me, 2 weeks for Thorben, who also went to Inner Mongolia for work that month.

August

Our summer 2018 was filled with friends and food. The China explorations continued with a group trip to Moganshan, where Thorben and many of our friends competed in an obstacle race (I was only along for the ride).

September

Basically, the whole month of September was about food and travel. It started with a weekend in Taipei, where Jana, Ellie and I ate our way through the city. Back in Shanghai, it was restaurant week again and we got 2 more visitors, my little sister and her boyfriend. Together, we went to Luoyang, Xi’An, Chengdu and Leshan. Besides two great food tours, seeing the pandas was definitely a highlight of the trip!

October

In October, we used Golden Week to travel some more: Thorben went to Tibet and hiked all the way to the Everest base camp, while I went to visit my American family in Utah, Arizona and California. The US marked my 4th continent visited that year (and gave me gold status for flying way too much). After a few weeks back in Shanghai, I took another trip to Taipei to celebrate Pride.

November

After my third Germany trip at the beginning of the month, the rest of the month was spent in Shanghai. I got a beautiful view of Shanghai from above, we went to a great event called Chi Fan for Charity and celebrated Thanksgiving. Thorben grew a (truly terrible) mustache for Movember and played in another archery league.

December

Ellie came to visit from Taipei for a long weekend at the end of November/beginning of December and helped me finish baking the final batch of Christmas Cookies. To get even more into the Christmas spirit, a friend and I made our own Christmas sweaters! Finally, Thorben and I spent the last 2 weeks of 2018 in Germany and were pretty busy with 2 weddings, 2 birthdays, visiting friends and family and celebrating Christmas!

And that was 2018! I can’t wait for more trips, Shanghai adventures, visitors and dinner parties in 2019 🙂

Taipei Pride

Taipei Pride

Last weekend I took another trip to Taipei because it was Pride weekend 🙂 A few friends from Shanghai went; I’m always happy to visit Jana and Ellie, so, win-win.

It was my first pride and I was very prepared – I’m German after all 🙂 I bought a bunch of accessories during my US trip and lots of gold tattoos on Taobao. The parade was on Saturday and we had a lot of fun getting ready for it. And by getting ready, I mean applying those gold tattoos and lots of glitter.

Besides going to Pride, we also ate. Ellie has a list of places to try and we did 3 of them – all were great! We had dinner at La Mesa, a Spanish restaurant, brunch at The SPOT, a cute cafe with yummy food, and one more brunch at Herban, another great find. 3 spots down, 154 to go!

In addition to that, chocolate xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung were a must of course, as well as another trip to the night market (not pictured, but same yummy stuff as last time).

So it was an all around fantastic weekend with lovely people, great weather and amazing food 🙂

Golden Week Travels: USA

Golden Week Travels: USA

My Golden Week was quite different from Thorben’s. Instead of exploring a new part of the world, I flew to the US for the 18th time – I just counted 🙂 My trip can be summed up with 3 words: family, food and shopping. In total, I spent over 30 hours on 5 different flights. It was definitely worth it because I managed to see all members of my American family within 8 days.

Fun Fact: My flight to L.A. arrived 3 hours earlier than it left Shanghai because there is a 15 hour time difference between China and the West Coast.

Utah

From L.A. I hopped straight on to a plane to Salt Lake City to see the Utah side of the family. I spent 3 nights at my American grandparents house and got to hang out with 2 of my host sisters, aunt and uncle, and my host sisters adorable kids. 2 of them got Feiyue shoes, which were promptly used at Show & Tell at school: “Look at my shoes! They’re from China!” 🙂

We also had lunch at In N Out. Biting into their cheeseburger for the first time is always magical, as were the home cooked breakfast and dinners I got!

Arizona

The next stop was Arizona to see my host parents and my remaining 3 host siblings. All we had on the agenda for 3 days was eating – Hello Chipotle and Cold Stone! – shopping and hanging out. And we went on a mission to find cool cacti to take pictures of 🙂

California

With 2 days left, my host mom and I flew back to California to see her mom, brother and his wife. The ocean view is so beautiful and the weather was perfect; it was hard to leave the balcony. The chocolate, almond and ham & cheese croissants we had for breakfast didn’t hurt either 🙂 We did manage to do some more outlet shopping, got another In N Out cheeseburger and saw “A Star is Born”. After a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway back to L.A. it was sadly time to fly back to Shanghai.

Thanks so much to my awesome host family for yet another awesome trip. I can’t wait for my 2019 US visit!

Golden Week Travels: Tibet

Golden Week Travels: Tibet

The Trip

During the national holiday, I joined a travel group for a trip to the Tibet. It was one of the few that actually included hiking, and not just riding around in a bus. Our tour started in Lhasa, where we spent two days to get prepared for the altitude. We visited Potala Palace and some smaller temples, ate delicious Tibetan hot pot and tried our best to sleep at 3.600m.

Tibet is more than three times the size of Germany, so getting to the head of the trail close to New Tingri took us one day and a 14 hour bus ride.

Our hike led us from Lungthang at 4.300m, to Lamna La at 5.150m over Rongbuk and finally to the Everest Base Camp at something around 5.200m. We slept in tents, but were lucky to have a team of four Tibetan guys that helped us cook, set up the tents and drove the heavy bags from camp site to camp site.

Those four were worth their weight in gold. While hiking on this altitude was hard but manageable with symptoms that reminded of a serious hangover, sleeping was not. Every morning a sleep deprived, disoriented group of 20 foreigners moved aimlessly between their tents and needed every help they could get to set out for the coming day.

Nevertheless, it was an amazing trip. The night sky, the landscape, the people, the food. And hey, I spent a night on Mount Everest, the highest mountain on the planet! Of course I took a bunch of pictures. Before the trip I was contemplating whether or not to bring the extra gear, but it was worth it. Below you can find a small selection of the pictures. First, our stay in Lhasa, then our trip, and finally the amazing Tibetan night sky.

Scroll down all the way for a picture that shows how small and insignificant even Mount Everest looks like next to the Milky Way. That triggered a small existential crisis 🙂

Lhasa

Our hiking trip

The Night Sky

China Travels: Leshan

China Travels: Leshan

After a day of exploring Chengdu, we hired a car to take us on a day trip to Leshan.

Leshan Giant Buddha

The reason to make the 2 hour drive was to see the Giant Buddha, a 71m tall statue carved into a red sand stone cliff. It’s the largest Buddha statue in the world and was carved over 1,200 years ago. To visit it, we headed to the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area. After climbing lots of stairs and passing by some temples, we first saw the Buddha from the top. Mostly we saw the massive head. On one side of it, they carved stairs into the stone, so you can walk down on the side and see it from different angles. When you finally stand in front of the Buddha, it’s a pretty cool perspective, you mainly see huge toes 🙂

The Giant Buddha is carved into a cliff facing a river, or to be more precise it’s at the junction of three rivers. So to be able to really see the whole statue, we took a short boat ride.

Huanglongxi

On our way back to Chengdu we stopped in Huanglongxi, an ancient town. It’s 1,700 years old and the buildings have been restored to look like they used to back in the day. It’s pretty touristy now and all the old houses have shops and food vendors inside them. Especially on a nice day like we had, I still think it’s still a nice place for a stop and a stroll along the stream.

And that’s it! The next morning we hopped on a plane back to Shanghai. Within one week, we managed to do quite a bit of exploring and saw some really cool places. The list of things to do in China remains long of course 🙂

China Travels: Chengdu

China Travels: Chengdu

As you could probably tell from Thorben’s post, the next stop after Xi’an was Chengdu. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. It’s famous for 2 things: Spicy food and PANDAS!

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

I was very very excited about finally getting to see Pandas, so on our first morning we headed straight to the Panda base, or formally called the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Since pandas usually give birth in August we were lucky to see little fluffy adorable panda cubs!

We spent around 4 hours at the base. Mostly we watched the pandas eat and sleep (or eat while lying down) which is basically all they do all day. A sign in the park titled “Why do giant pandas always eat and sleep?” explained that the nutritional value of bamboo is very low so “They are not lazy, they are energy efficient!”

Lazy or not, they are so cute and clumsy and just all over awesome! I took way too many pictures and videos. If the guys wouldn’t have gotten bored I think my sister and I would still be there watching them 🙂

In addition to the giant pandas, the base housed quite a few red pandas. They are not as “energy efficient”, so they are not as easy to spot because they move a lot more, climb in the trees and are hidden in their enclosures. We got really lucky and had 2 awesome encounters. The first was early in the morning when it was just us and a couple little pandas came really close and Thorben was able to take great pictures. When we came back later in the day the keepers showed up to feed them, so many more came out to get some goodies.

They are so so so adorable and again, we had to be dragged away 🙂

People’s Park

After all the excitement of the morning, we headed to a tea house in People’s Park and spent a few hours relaxing and drinking tea. The guide book said getting your ears cleaned in People’s Park was the thing to do so Thorben went for the full Chengdu experience 🙂

Wenshu Monastery

Between the tea drinking and our next activity (spoiler: another food tour) we had a bit of time so we explored the Wenshu Monastery. It was very pretty with many different buildings and a little park, so definitely worth a visit.

Sichuan Food Tour

The last thing we did in Chengdu was to go on another food tour. Our guide Alina from Chengdu Food Tours showed us lots of different local foods, most of it pretty spicy. We started with bread buns stuffed with meat and rice noodles from a little street booth. Our next stop was a restaurant close to the monastery where they served sweet and spicy noodles, more rice noodles and rice cakes. At a local market Thorben went for the full Chengdu experience again and tried a rabbit head, including eyes, tongue and brain … yum. I passed, in case anyone was wondering 😉

After the rabbit head we tried some pickled vegetables and had a mixed vegetable salad, something a bit more western friendly. The market also gave us the chance to try some different baijiu – we took our favorite with us in a 0.5l plastic bottle 😀 We finished the night at a local “fly” restaurant (fly because it’s so busy it’s buzzing) with some more spicy food.