Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome to the Switzerland of the Orient...

Now that we are packed and set to travel,our first stop will be one beautiful destination which is sometimes referred to as the 'Switzerland of the Orient'.

A beautiful seaside city that is situated in the southeast part of Shandong province in China.This beautiful city is close to the yellow sea across which are the neighboring countries Korea and Japan.This makes it an important port for international trade.

This bewitching city even played host for the sailing event in the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing! Well,by now you must have guessed that I am taking about 'Qingdao'.

In May 2009,we were getting back the travel itch after staying at home for more than a couple of months due to harsh winter.When the climate got warmer hubby could not take the weekends off due to his hectic work schedule and I was desperate to travel.

Around that time,hubby's colleagues family visited him from India and we found this to be a perfect opportunity for travel. His family live in our apartment and this gave us the perfect chance to plan the outing.

We had heard a lot about Qingdao and hubby had been there during the olympics but at that time I was in India with lil angel who was just a few months old.So there was no way I could join him then.

All plans were made for the following weekend and we were ready to start off from our town on Saturday morning.We had arranged a car for both the families to travel comfortably...

Packing for the trip was an easy task.Two bags for the adults[MIL,hubby and me] and one large bag with lil angels things.

His friend's wife and me are vegetarians so we planned to cook a whole day's meal and pack with us.She prepared Chapathi and kurma and the mandatory coffee for breakfast while I prepared Tamarind rice,curd rice and Potato curry for lunch.These two sets of dishes are very apt for travel.I woke up at around 4 am to prepare these dishes and do the last minute chores.Both the families decided to bring lots of snacks to tide us over in case we did not find a vegetarian meal.

Armed with all these the 7 of us set out to see the enchanting city of Qingdao at 7 am that Saturday morning.

We stopped at a highway motel to stretch and had coffee there.After all the rush in the morning to cook and pack the food,I felt truly relaxed after the hot coffee went down my throat.

Once again we started the journey and all along the way I was busy clicking pics.That time I didn't even think of starting a travel blog.

We took the highway and all along the way we could see greenery and mountains .We kept munching snacks and gulping down juices all along the way that we never gave the tummy a change to get hungry.Our original plan was to stop on the way to have breakfast but we never got around to eat it.

Around 1pm we reached Qingdao,but it took another half an hour to get to the hotel that we had booked for the stay.The driver did not speak a word of English and he seemed to be amused to hear us speak Chinese.

The GPRS in the car was helpful only after hubby called up his English speaking colleague and asked him to talk to the driver.

Right at the entrance of the city we were greeted by the Qingdao (Tsingtao) Beer factory!!!

It is a famous brand in China and if you love beer be sure to try it out.And yes,they also have a beer festival every year!!!

I felt a sudden thrill when we entered the city.There were colonial architecture and modern buildings standing side by side.I later learnt that until 1949,for around 30 years or so,Qingdao was a colony of Germany and Japan.Hence one can see the colonial architecture mingling with the skyscrapers.Take a look at the cityscape....

We stayed at the Qingdao Champs Elysees Business Hotel-a four star hotel that is situated near the Olympic sailing center.

We spent a good deal of time at the reception filling out forms and even more time when they learn we were Indians who could speak Chinese!!The staffs at the reception desk were so inquisitive to know everything about us-our dress,culture,food....

We had a hard time explaining all these as they kept asking questions after questions and finally we managed to tell them we were tired and the kids were hungry.

Only after we settled down in our respective rooms did we realize we were as hungry as the kids.The lunch session began in our room and had to hurry up as were had plans to go sight-seeing immediately.

We had scheduled to visit the 'polar ocean world' and it would close in case we were late.Lunch,a quick wash-up and we were ready to see the real Qingdao and its attractions!!

Just about that time I looked out of the window[our room was on the 13th floor] to catch a breath taking scene below!!!

Truly captivating isn't it!!!

I will be back to take you around the fascinating 'Polar ocean world' where I witnessed the dolphin show for the very first time in my life...

See you soon...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's get packin'....

I have been busy for the past couple of weeks getting packed to return back to China and frantically shopping for stuffs that I don't get there.So I thought I would write on what I do when I travel.

Hubby and me are know to our family as 'travel bugs'.We love to travel and visit new places and sometimes we would just go for a ride on his bike after dinner and roam around some nice places in the cities we lived and return home late.

With both of us being so passionate for outdoor pleasures,lil angel is not to be outdone.She too seems to be smitten by the travel bug and enjoys each and every trip with us.

Earlier I used to travel with my parents for vacations and sometimes alone for my fine arts programs and all these times I followed these basic tips which I am going to share with you.

With these tips I hope you too will be ready to scoot at any time of the day even at the last moment's notice and also I guarantee that you will have a memorable,hassle-free and the most enjoyable holiday ever.

  1. Write down a list of things to pack:I always make a list of all that I would need,right from the clothing[summer/winter wear],tickets,currency,extra pair of shoes etc.This not only helps me pack from home,but also ensures that I bring back all the things that I packed from home
  2. Book the tickets in advance:Once you finalize the destination its better to book the tickets or arrange a car for the journey or the hotel where you would like to stay .If you are planning for a holiday during vacation time,advance booking can save you from tons of disappointments of not finding the convenient mode of transportation or the right accommodation.
  3. Select the right type of baggage:Invest in sturdy bags and it will last for many years.At the same time,the bags must not be too heavy.Similarly pack according to the duration of the trip,say,if you are going out for the weekend,a small bag will be more than sufficient than a large sturdy bag.
  4. Study about the places you want to visit,read about them and the schedule the timings,for you don't want to go to a museum and find it locked.
  5. Prioritize the places you want to see-Setting a schedule of places to visit and prioritizing them is very important.A few times when we went on an 'impulse' vacation,we visited the least important places and later found that we had missed some really interesting and famous places.
  6. Talk to people who have been there before for they can be of better guidance than the travel books and guides.They would be glad to guide you with information for hotels,restaurants and the best places to visit.If you don't know anyone who has been to a particular place you choose to visit,hire a local guide to take you through.
  7. Vaccination and health card and medicines.If you have a history of illness,don't forget to take your medical card and if you are carrying an infant-the vaccination card.Also the medications are of utmost importance as you may not find similar medicines if you are traveling to another country.
  8. Distribute the currency/travelers cheque in different baggage.If are unlucky enough to find one of your bags stolen/misplaced,you will still have some currency left to tide you over.Similarly don't keep the currency in the outermost compartment.
  9. If you are traveling overseas,make a couple of copies of your passport and carry them in different bags.
  10. Last but not the least-Leave the list[ mentioned in point 1] in the suitcase:Its save the time of thinking about what you need to pack the next time you are ready to go on a vacation.
In my next post I promise to take to an exotic location in China...Pack up your bags and be ready to travel with me....