Posted in China, Travel

There’s no place like home… 

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. ~ Terry Pratchett

The ducks are padding about on the banks of the River Avon and I’m sat on the patio chair soaking up the Stratford sunshine with a nice cup of English breakfast tea. (I’ve already had about 100 cups of tea since I touched down on British soil!)


After a 4 hour bus journey, a 15 hour flight and what seemed like the longest journey day, I am home, I am back from my adventure, with the photographs, friends and memories that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

The volcanic lake within Taal Volcano, Philippines

Over this last year we’ve performed in 5 countries and 7 cities. Bradford England, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. I’ve explored parts of the world I had never dreamed of getting to see… hiked mountains, swam in Volcanos, been caught in a tropical thunder storm whilst snorkelling in the sea in Malaysia , walked the Great Wall of China, travelled on a cable car through the misty Hallelujah Avatar Mountains, danced with fireflies on a boat in Indonesia, walked across a glass bridge over a canyon, tried, loved and learned how to make soup dumplings… and of course, met some wonderful people along the journey.

The Great Wall of China

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Sunday marked our last two shows of the International tour of Wicked. I always find the end of a contract quite bitter sweet, on the one hand it’s a celebration but on the other it’s hard to part from colleagues turned friends that you have literally spent every day with. 


I feel that it’s even more apparent on an International tour. Being away from friends, family and loved ones is really hard. Even though we all got to see all these incredible places, I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that I have struggled on many occasion. We all have from time to time. Just like hiking on the Great Wall of China, we pulled each other along, encouraged, listened and looked after one another. We were a team, a touring family. I feel lucky to have have made not only great memories but some great friends too.


But here we are, back home and it seems as though the last 12 months were a bit of a dream. 


I’d like to extend a big thank you to all of you that have supported our show and taken the time to read my blog posts about my adventures- I have loved sharing them with you… until next time 💕

Lots of love 

Emily xxx

💚

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Posted in China, Travel

Zhangjiajie & the Avatar Mountains… 

You are not in Kansas anymore, you are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen, respect that fact every second of every day ~ Avatar

There are certain moments in life that are so astonishing you feel as though you are in a dream.

I felt like that when I got married , I was so euphoric with happiness that I felt like I was floating up outside of my body, taking in the moment.

When I got back to the hotel after walking on The Great Wall of China I felt like I had dreamed the entire day, it was surreal to think that I had stepped upon something so vast and historic.

Seeing the beauty of the misty Hallelujah Mountians in Zhangjiajie was another one of those moments… It was like nothing I have ever seen before, the giant pillar-like quartz sandstone rocks looked like something from another planet… no wonder this beautiful part of China served as inspiration for Pandora, the world within James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Avatar.

And believe me, this photo doesn’t do it half the justice…
Before I learned we were heading over to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou for 3 months, I didn’t know very much about China. With the exception of the Great Wall, I hadn’t anticipated such beautiful landscapes and Zhangjiajie had some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. China is truly a fascinating part of the world.

Baofeng Lake, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park 

Zhangjiajie attracts tourists from all over the world that flock to see the mysterious mountains, scenic lakes and curious caves. The National Forest Park was named in 1992 as a world heritage site and here you can find beautiful waterfalls, Baofeng Lake and the cable car to take you up to the Avatar Hallelujah Mountains.

This was as awesome as it looks!
The park is so vast that an entrance ticket will last four days… this is such a good call for a number of reasons, the main one being the weather. If you are unlucky one day, you are still able to return the next giving you a good chance of seeing those insane views!

And the Monkeys… did I not mention the Monkeys? 🙈

The Glass Bridge

As if Avatar mountains and monkeys weren’t enough, Zhangjiajie is also home to the famous Grand Canyon Glass Bridge that spans two mountain cliffs. The Glass Bridge, is suspended 260m above ground, which makes it the tallest glass bridge in the world.

The Bridge is a real tourist attraction and only 800 people are allowed on the bridge at a time, so be prepared to queue for a while.

Totally worth the wait!
At first my legs were a bit jellyish but once I got over the initial fear of walking on glass I really got into it! I mean, when will I ever get the opportunity to walk on a glass bridge again?

Yellow Dragon Cave 

Yellow Dragon Cave was only discovered in 1983 (I’ve heard that was a good year 😉) and at about 30 kilometers long, 80 meters wide and average 50 meters in height, it is the largest cave in Asia.


To help with visibility, there is coloured lighting inside the cave… which gives it a sense of a hidden grotto. We took a boat ride on the water inside the cave and it was almost like being on a ride at Disney, not in a natural cave thousands of years old. I had to keep reminding myself of where I was… it was pretty incredible.

It’s worth pointing out that there are over 900 steps and because the cave is … well, a cave, it can be a little damp, so you may want to pop your grippy walking boots on for this one.

Tianmen Mountain

The day we went up to Tianmen mountain was our final day in Zhangjiajie and unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side. Our parade was well and truly rained on!

The *very slippery glass skywalk at the top of Tianmen Mountain
Although I spent all morning padding about in what felt like cold sloppy porridge, even in the wet weather it was pretty amazing/scary to be at the top of a Mountain and not be able to see the edge!!

We took a cable car through the clouds up to the top and the mist made it all very atmospheric. Tianmen Mountain is well known for it’s glass skywalk along the cliff edge…. in a way I was quite pleased that it was so misty – it made me feel like I was cloud hopping.

 

All in all, my visit to Zhangjiajie was absolutely beautiful. I feel so lucky to have experienced such an incredible place.

My number one suggestion would be to get a tour guide. We had a fantastic guide, named Tony, he organised everything down to a tea. He arranged our entrance tickets (often we skipped queues with him) our transportation and he was so knowledgeable every step of the way.

We stayed at the Pullman hotel in the National Forest Park, which I would recommend, it was lovely and a great location.

You can get direct flights from Guangzhou to Zhangjiajie and it only takes roughly an hour.


I hope you enjoyed reading about my little holiday in the mountains, I’ve attached some useful links below… right, now I’m off to watch Avatar 💙

Love Emily xxx

Some useful links…

Posted in Beijing, China, Food

There’s nothing Beige about Beijing! 

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow…

Beijing is such a historical and cultural city, there is so much to do here and I’m so grateful to have enjoyed a good four weeks of sight seeing and exploring.

The Forbidden City

Along with the countless Temples and top sights including Tían’anmen Square, The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck in and learning about some of the many traditions of old Beijing.

Xiaolongbao Cookery Class…


In many of my previous blogs I’ve gone on (and on 😜) about Xiaolongbao, the delicious soup dumplings that I am so obsessed with. Xiaolongbao is a type of steamed dumpling traditionally prepared in a xiaolong (a small bamboo steaming basket) and they are like a little burst of heaven in your mouth.

Our homemade dumplings 😋

After trying soup dumplings for the first time in Hong Kong,  I have tried various Xiaolongbao restaurants in both Shanghai and Beijing. A great one is Din Tai Fung, a little chain of restaurants throughout China. I’m really hoping they branch out to the UK… but just incase they don’t, I looked for a cookery class in Beijing on how to make Xiaolongbao… and I found one! Now I can truly take a taste of China home with me…

I found the class at The Hutong (link below) and a little group of us went along and we all had such a brilliant afternoon, I felt like a contestant on the Great British Bake off… minus the bunting!

Sarah and I were on a roll…

Making the dough was all sorts of fun, obviously there were some Paul Hollywood impressions being thrown around the table… It crossed my mind that if this were a technical challenge, I don’t think I would have made star baker. (Unless of course you take into consideration the tasting part and who ate the most dumplings… in which case I was the solid winner.)


Sophia our teacher taught us the recipe for the dipping sauce, the pork filling, how to make the soup and of course the art of rolling and folding the dumpling. It was actually a lot more difficult and fiddly than I thought and I will definitely have to practice a lot before I achieve the perfect Xiaolongbao… I have a feeling the Shaw Clan won’t mind a bit! 😋


Walking the Hutongs…

A Hutong is a type of narrow alley (a bit like the shambles in York, but bigger.) There are loads in Beijing and northern China. Hutongs are little neighbourhoods and some of them are very trendy and have what I would describe as an “East London” kind of vibe with quirky coffee shops, vintage stores and one off boutiques.

We found this amazing brunch restaurant, Toast, in a hotel called The Orchid. Not only do they serve brunch until 2.30pm (👍) but they have an amazing menu- including chocolate chip pancakes with cinnamon maple syrup butter… need I say more?

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Toast at The Orchid: #65 Baochao Hutong
Guloudong road
Dongcheng District

The owners of Toast were so friendly and recommended a great walk for us to take that led us to Wudaoying Hutong. On the way we stumbled across an incredible vintage store called Miss Eliza Vintage, you can have a bash at haggling in here and pick up some real gems.

Miss Eliza Vintage, 9 Nanxiawazi Hutong Dongcheng District

Traditional Hotpot & Dancing noodles!

Hot pot is a variety of East Asian food, prepared with a simmering pot of stock at the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.

Sharing food is a traditional part of dining in China. I’ve noticed, upon eating out over here, that one person is given a menu and orders for the whole table, then everyone shares.

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Getting saucy at Haidilao Hotpot

Haidilao Hotpot is an authentic Sichuan hotpot restaurant famous not only for it’s delicious hotpots and great service (you can actually get a complimentary manicure while you wait in the queue for a table) but for their dancing noodles…

The Chefs come out and noodlefy (new technical term) your noodles before adding them to your hotpot.

If you are looking for a bit of a dining experience whilst in Beijing, then I highly recommend Haidilao Hotpot.

  • Open 24 hours
  • Address: 8/F, In 88 Shopping Mall, No.88 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing

If you get the opportunity to visit Beijing, then I recommend getting yourself a Lonely Planet guide, a map, a metro card (they are 20 RMB – 25p) and get stuck into the culture, try new things… thats the true Beijing… and the best bit.

Huge thanks to all staff at the JW Marriott, Tianqiao Art Theatre and all the lovely audiences that came by to support us 😊

Each time I have written a blog over the past year it’s been one step further along the tour, one step closer to the finish line. Never has that been more apparent than right now. I’m sat in my hotel room in Guangzhou, our final destination on this International touring adventure. Twelve weeks in China seemed like such a long period of time, but my goodness how it’s flown! In just two weeks I’ll be going into my last weekend of performances before heading off on that long journey back home. But first… Guangzhou, let’s be having you!

Until next time,

Love Emily xxx

Flag lowering ceremony, Tían’anmen Square

 

 

Posted in Beijing, China, Hiking, Travel

Beijing Baby!

That’s been the best day of the tour so far…

It’s hard not to get complacent seeing all these incredible places! I’ve climbed more mountains this year, visited more temples and photographed more spectacular views than I have in my whole life. 

There have been so many times over the past 12 months that I’ve said, “That’s been the best day of the tour so far.” Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire, Pulau Ubin in Singapore, Sibu Island in Malaysia, Bintan in Indonesia, Lamma Island in Hong Kong, Taal Volcano in The Philippines, The Yellow Mountains in Huangshan… each one sticks out in my mind as being the best day of the tour. 

…The Great Wall was THE best day of the tour (so far.)

A group of us decided to go on the Great Wall together and we chose to go with Wild Great Wall Adventures, a Tour Guide company recommended to us, (see link below.) 

We were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am. It took a couple of hours to get to the start of our journey at Xizhazi village and our guide, May, was great and gave us a quick Chinese history lesson on the way. Once we arrived at Xizhazi Village we began our hike uphill to reach the ruined tower, Zhengbeikou. 

The ruined tower. (Stuart & Kyle -giving it Gandalf!)

This part of the hike was the hardest as it’s consistently uphill for about 30-45 minutes but the views of Jiankou were beautiful and once we reached the ruined tower which leads you to an old part of the wall I felt so humbled and amazed. I just couldn’t believe that I was there, on the Great Wall of China! 


After passing through a few towers along the wall, we reached Ox Horn Edge, (as it looks like an ox’ horn in shape… go figure.) I absolutely loved this path, I found it both challenging and hilarious. It is so steep (to put it mildly) and extremely challenging. I certainly wouldn’t recommend climbing up here in a £15 pair of market trainers 🙈… make sure you are wearing some really grippy shoes… slippy isn’t the word! 

Ox Horn Edge

If you don’t fancy climbing up this steep path, there is a shortcut detour which takes about 10 minutes that will lead you around to Jiankou again. Both paths lead to the same place but if you are in a large group and some of you want to take the shortcut then you will have to wait for your team a short while until they slide down from the Ox Horn. (Perhaps a good opportunity for a snack. 😋)

The Great Slide Of China

After what I can only describe as “bum shuffling” down the Great Wall of China, which by the way made me laugh so hard it made me weak (a cheap ab workout!) We rendezvoused with the rest of our team who were waiting for us and we all continued our walk to the fully restored Mutianyu.

Our team 💚

With the exception of all the stairs, I found this part of the hike much more straight forward (so to speak!) The Wall here is fully restored and although in parts steep, the ground is even and it’s a little easier on those pins! There are many more people here too, on the old section of the wall we saw maybe only five other tourists. We chose a particularly hot day and the crowds were minimal, our tour guide said we were quite lucky as it can get very busy- especially in peak times. 

We walked about 10k of the Great Wall from tower 38 to tower 6 where we took a toboggan (oh yes!) back down to the bottom. You can take the cable car from tower 14 or the chair lift from tower 6 but I highly recommend the toboggan. You are in control of the speed and the brake so you can go as fast or as slow as you wish. It’s absolutely hilarious! I loved it…


Our little excursion gave us all a great appetite and our guide took us to a local restaurant where we had some delicious food and a well deserved beer before heading back to our hotel. I cannot praise this wonderful day out highly enough, organised, informative and a day I will never forget. A big thank you to our team leader Wendy Lee Purdy for organising this incredible trip. 

  • Wild Great Wall Tours
  • I recommend: Decent (good grip) walking shoes, plenty of water, snacks, a hat, sun glasses, long trousers/leggings, sun screen, bug spray.
  • The cost is dependent on the amount of people in your party (see website) There were 11 of us and for everything- including travel and food, it cost us 470RBM each. (£54) 

Duck De Chine


Visiting Beijing and not having Peking duck would be about as disappointing as going home thinking you were having a lovely roast dinner and getting Lasagna*

Back in the UK we have a version of Peking Duck that we call crispy duck pancakes, always a favourite with my family when we go to a Chinese cuisine restaurant. 

I found Duck de Chine recommended in my trusty Lonely Planet guide as one of the best places in Beijing for Peking duck. 

The restaurant is tricky to find, in an old converted building by the name of 1947, found in the Sanlitun area of Beijing. It’s  also a little pricier than other traditional restaurants, but it was hands down the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. So succulent, sweet and crispy- without being fatty at all. 


We ordered two whole ducks, prawn and pork steamed dumplings (😋) and a couple of plates of garlic broccoli. It was all very theatrical with a big loud gong to announce that our duck had arrived.

A few bottles of wine later and some very full bellies, we all concluded that Duck De Chine certainly lived up to the recommendation… good old Lonely Planet.

*True story (don’t get me wrong, I like Lasagne… but not as much as Roast.)

  • Duck De Chine
  • Open Daily: Lunch: 11am-2.30pm Dinner: 5.30-10.30pm
  • 1949 – The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu (opposite the south gate of Pacific Century Place Mall)

Hutong Calligraphy 


Calligraphy was the means by which scholars could mark their thoughts and teachings for immortality, and as such, represent some of the more precious treasures that can be found from ancient China.

The lovely Sara Morley had a birthday at the beginning of this week and so to celebrate we decided to go for a bit of culture and learn something new. Chinese Calligraphy.

I find calligraphy so fascinating, it’s so beautiful and impressive. I am not a ‘natural’ artist (to say the least!) so I knew it would be a bit of a challenge for me. I was so surprised at how relaxing it was, I found it very therapeutic. 

We booked an hour and a half hour lesson with a lovely gentleman, Richard Le from Hutong Calligraphy (see link below.) He was a great teacher -very patient and funny. After going through all the basics, we learnt how to write “Happy” – it took me a fair few attempts of course!

I enjoyed the class so much that I bought some of Richards calligraphy artwork that he personalised for me as a momento of the  lesson.

  • Hutong Calligraphy
  • Class schedule: Daily at 10:00am-11:30am , 13:00-14:30, 15:00-16:30, 18:00-19:30pm​
  • 1.5hours class: 330RMB (£36) 

Our first two weeks in Beijing have certainly been interesting and I am so glad to have experienced some of the local traditions and customs. I tried some Shāomài dumplings at Dūyīchù on Qianmen Dajie, I think I still prefer Xiao Long Bau- the soup dumplings that I am so obsessed with that I haven’t really blogged about yet… oh but I will! 

I still have a lot more to see and try here in Beijing before we move on to Guangzhou in two weeks time, so do let me know if you have any recommendations… and I hope you enjoyed mine! 

Until next time,

Love Emily xxx 

Posted in China, Shanghai, Travel

Shanghai, Shang-bye!

The bad news is time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot.

We’ve been really spoilt here in Shanghai. Lovely little cafes, bars and restaurants. Beautiful parks and gardens. Plenty of shops, markets and bazaars. The food is phenomenal and to top it off they have a DisneyLand. 

There are so many places I could recommend in Shanghai, but at risk of writing the worlds longest blog, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of my favourite haunts that I’ve found over my last five weeks here… 

Kommune 🥑🍳🥐

IMG_8497
The Avocado Smash
If I’ve not mentioned this before, then along with most of the population of the world it seems, I am obsessed with avocado… in salads, in smoothies, in wraps and especially on toast. I also have real thing for feta cheese, I think because I don’t put much salt in (or on) my food it gives that little salty flavour that I would otherwise be lacking. I always cook my scrambled egg with a bit of feta cheese, I find it stops the eggs from becoming too dry but still allows you to cook your eggs fully (I cannot bear a snotty egg!) So, naturally I love it when avocado and feta are together on a menu and I will always choose that (even over pancakes!)

The avocado smash on toast at Kommune was my absolute favourite breakfast/brunch I’ve had here in Shanghai. Kommune is a really cute little cafe in the middle of Tianzifang. The coffee is really good and they have wifi… bonus! Tianzifang reminds me a little of Spitalfield Market or the North Lanes in Brighton, lots of cute little shops and boutiques to explore. Breakfast and shopping… what’s not to like?

  • OPENING HOURS: 7am-1am Mon-Sun (Happy Hour 😊 5pm-7pm)
  • Vegetarian friendly 
  • The Yard No. 7, 210 Taikang Rd, Shanghai

Tribe 🍏🍉🍐

Green Juice & Chicken Salad Bowl

Tribe is a restaurant/cafe not too far from our hotel and is the perfect place if you fancy some good clean eating. 

Having heard some excellent reports on the breakfast menu, I found myself trotting over there to join the tribe.

Not only does Tribe do amazing breakfasts (including a banana bread french toast 😋) Their salads and fresh juices are scrumptious. 

  • Tribe
  • Vegetarian, gluten-free friendly
  • OPENING HOURS: 8am-11pm Mon-Sunday
  • A MANSION BUILDING, 103B NO. 291 FUMIN ROAD, 

Mr & Mrs Bund 🍸🥂

I’m not going to beat around the Bund,  I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had here in Shanghai. When I say meal, I really mean dining experience, and when I say dining experience, I really mean culinary art.


Mr and Mrs Bund by Chef Paul Pairet is a French restaurant located on the sixth floor of a beautiful building on the Bund. I found it in my lonely planet guide, tipped as one of the best restaurants in Shanghai, so naturally I had to give it a whirl.

The menu is extensive with many French classics including beef bourguignon, a personal favourite of mine (my Mum makes an incredible version!)

After a day out, at a certain magical kingdom, a group of us decided to push the boat out and book a table at Mr and Mrs Bund. We knew it would be expensive but we decided to treat ourselves in celebration of our final week in Shanghai. Our waiter recommended a variation of the set menus so we could try and taste an array of dishes between us. Since all six of us are complete and utter foodies this idea worked perfectly for us. We chose Bistrot, PP Classics and Le’ Essentiel. (I have attached a menu below 😋)

Being from a family of hardcore food lovers I am always up for trying new things, there really isn’t anything that I don’t like, except for perhaps Spaghetti – which is thanks to one of my favourite childhood books “The Twits” where Mrs Twit serves up worms for Mr Twit and tells him it’s Spaghetti… I simply cannot get past the texture! Thankfully I was not at Mr and Mrs Twits house but rather Mr and Mrs Bunds although ironically, I did try another garden favourite… snails or Escargots (which made it sound a little more appetising) but actually they were blooming lovely… perhaps if Mrs Twit had soaked those worms in garlic, things may have been different for old Mr Twit.

Everything I tried I absolutely loved but my favourites were the Jumbo Shrimp in a Glass Jar with citrus, lemongrass & vanilla, the Wagyu Ribeye and for dessert (and arguably the winning dish of the evening) was the Lemon & Lemon Tart, which is a  candied whole lemon, lemon Sorbet and lemon curd. Apparently it takes three days to make… it took me three seconds to eat.

If you are partial to a tipple or two, I would recommend trying the Mr Bund’s Kiss cocktail. Delicious!

  • Le Menu
  • OPENING HOURS :
  • Brunch : Saturday & Sunday : 11:30am to 2:30pm (last order)
  • Dinner : Sunday to Wednesday : 5:30pm to 10:30pm (last order) Thursday to Saturday : 5:30pm to 11:00pm (followed by Late Dinner service)
  • Late Night Dinner : Thursday to Saturday : 11:00pm to 02:00am (last order)
  • LOCATION: The Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (near Nanjing Dong Lu) Shanghai 200002
  • 外滩18号6楼,中山东一路18号 (靠近南京东路)上海 200002
  • Book ahead of time and grab a table by the window and enjoy the pretty views looking over at the Shanghai skyline. 💕

IMG_8316

Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world, the first being Burj Khalifa in Dubai. However with 128 floors above ground, the Shanghai Tower has the highest viewing platform, located on the 121st floor at 1841ft high.

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A bit of trivia for you… the elevator takes 55 seconds to reach the viewing platform, that’s 18 meters per second.
Kim and I waited for a lovely sunny day so we could enjoy the clearest views. A few of my other colleagues visited the tower by night and said how pretty the city looked with all the lights. I would definitely recommend taking the Ferry over to Pudong from the Bund, it only costs about 2RBM (20p) and it drops you off pretty much right outside the tower.

  • OPENING HOURS: 8.30am-10.30pm
  • TICKET ENTRY: 180 RBM (£20)
  • Shanghai Observatory,501 Middle Yincheng Road, Pudong (… although impossible to miss!)

YùYúan Gardens 🌸


Yùyúan Gardens and Bazaar is a beautiful bustling  tourist haven and I can totally see why. It’s so pretty, the gardens alone are simply stunning and if you are in Shanghai, then it’s definitely worth a visit. You can pick up all manner of souvenirs and gifts in and around the Bazaar. Yùyúan is such a lovely place to have a wander around but I would recommend steering clear of weekends or public holidays for the best experience.

  • OPENING HOURS: 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Sunday (last entry at 5 pm)
  • TICKET ENTRY: For the gardens, 40RBM (£4.50)

Disneyland 💫

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If you have read my previous blogs you will know that I’m a bit of a Disney fan. I worked for Disney Cruise Line back in 2004 so visiting the Disney parks gives me such a sense of nostalgia, bringing back such lovely memories of that time of my life. 

I was super excited for our visit to Disneyland in Shanghai! The park has only been open a year, they have some fantastic rides (Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean) and there was also talk of a certain Cheesecake Factory 😋 (but more on that in a minute!) 

A really special moment was meeting Belle, (as we were very good friends back in 2004.) Whenever I have visited the parks previously I’ve only ever seen Belle in the parades, so I was delighted to meet her here, in Shanghai. 

Belle 💛
 
Speaking of special moments… Whilst in DisneyLand we took the opportunity to visit  The Cheesecake Factory. Now I’m not one to forget a fantastic slice of Cheesecake and back in good old 2004 my Mum and I went to the Cheesecake Factory in Florida. Even 13 years later I remember that cheesecake… Raspberry and White Chocolate, rich yet light and utterly delicious. So you can imagine my excitement at reliving that taste sensation, would it live up to the memory….?

​… Yes. Yes it did.

I have had a truly fantastic five weeks here in Shanghai. Huge thanks to everyone at the Theatre and the fantastic staff at the Howard Johnson HuaiHui Hotel who have been so attentive and kind. Also a special shout out to the Strictly Cookie company, of which I could take shares out in the amount of cookies I’ve bought… hands down the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. (Not to be confused with biscuits, Farmhouse Chocolate Oatflips  still hold the title in the best biscuit department.)

On a side note, I’ve been Bloggering About for one year this weekend!… I can hardly believe how quickly the time has gone.  I really enjoy writing about my adventures and sharing them with you. So a big heartfelt thanks from me for taking the time to read my blog. 💕

Lots of love

Emily xxx 

Posted in China, Hiking, Travel

Shanghai: Ain’t no Mountain High Enough

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world ~ Gustave Flaubert

Being thousands of miles from home can be so hard sometimes. I definitely have ups and downs. I hold on to the fact that I am doing what I love and seeing places that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to see, but there are days when I feel blue and I just want to see my Husband, my family and even the ever unsociable cat Dottie.

Most of the time I’m positive and although I’m away from my favourite people for all of 12 weeks (9 weeks now 😊) I usually see this part of my life as an adventure I get to share with all of them when I get home. Of course there are those days when I can’t snap out of my home-sickness and I  let myself have those days too. I usually take myself off to a coffee shop or go for a walk in the park and read my book, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s ok to have those days.


… The day I visited Huangshan Yellow Mountains was not one of those days 😉

It’s hard to feel anything but exhilaration at hiking up to the top of a mountain and seeing the most incredible views and scenery I have possibly ever seen…

Breathtaking view 💛
Huangshan is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. Often referred to as The Yellow Mountains, well known for its spectacular views, pine trees and granite peaks, it’s also a World Heritage Site, and one of China’s major tourist destinations.

The Mountains are so vast that you could spend a good few days exploring them. 

We generally have the one day off a week, usually a Monday. So we had to squeeze our visit in, including a 4am start and a 12 hour round trip car journey  😬… sounds a lot I know, but it was truly worth it – and on a side note, I had the time to sit down and listen to the Hamilton soundtrack… (twice) so win win.


Like the Big Buddha in Hong Kong. You can get the cable car up to the start of the trail, I believe you can also hike- but this would take a good chunk of time. If you would rather hike up it’s worth noting that once you get up to the top, the hike to all of the landmarks and best views are pretty hard going. About 18 of us went and we all agreed it was a particularly tough hike- especially coming back up from the Fairy Bridge, (my calf muscles still haven’t forgiven me!)

…and we had to climb back up these!
The hike that we took led us to the famous Welcome Pine, Lotus Peak, Xihai Canyon and the Fairy Bridge (fair walking bridge). All with incredible views on the way. It’s worth printing off a map before you leave, as all the signs are in Chinese (why wouldn’t they be!) So it’s a good idea to plan the routes you are going to take before you get there… you wouldn’t want to climb a steep staircase only to have to turn back.

I definitely recommend bringing plenty of water and snacks with you. There are some little tuck shops along the routes but they are not cheap and I always think it’s handy to have provisions stored away… just in case 😊 


This was truly such a breathtaking day. Seeing something quite this beautiful is certainly humbling. We really do live in the most extrodinary world.

  • Huangshan Mountains
  • Sun to Fri 06:30 – 16:30
  • Saturday 06:00 – 16:30
  • Bring comfy hiking clothes and shoes, water, snacks, sunscreen and camera 
  • Definitely do the hike to the Fairy Bridge- it was my favourite 💛

We are now more than half way through Shanghai with only two weeks left and so much more to explore before we up and head over to Beijing.

So much time, so little to do. Strike that, reverse it. ~ Willy Wonka

Tomorrow we are heading over to Wuhzen water village, which looks absolutely stunning. I cannot wait to share with you my list of food recommendations, including my favourite brunch stops, soup dumplings, bakeries and bars… to be continued.

Lots of love & happy May Day! 

Emily xxx 

 

Posted in China, Shanghai, Travel

Oh Hi, Shanghai!

Shanghai has to be the city that I’ve acclimatized to the quickest. Normally the first two weeks of a new place I’m still finding my feet, but here in Shanghai it just feels like I slipped into a familiar pair of shoes… and they are very comfortable.


One of the things that I love most about Shanghai, is the abundance of individual coffee houses, bars and boutiques. Hardly any chains in sight. I really like that. It’s fantastic to see small business’ thriving here, and whilst I’m in this little touring bubble I intend to visit as many as I can.


Having been here in Shanghai for two weeks already, I can tell you that everywhere I’ve been has been absolutely top notch 👌. For example, the Bagel shop around the corner from our hotel (Spread the Bagel) has some of the best bagels I have ever tasted. The coffee in literally every cafe I’ve visited has been scrumptious, my favourite being Coffee Belt, they do the BEST Flat White.

Address: 368 Shaanxi Nan Lu, by Fuxing Zhong Lu

In a lot of bars and cafes you need a Chinese phone number to access the Internet. Though there are positives and negatives to this. The hardest being that I cannot reach out to my family as easily or get myself on social media as frequently but on the flip side the positives are that I don’t have my head stuck in my phone 24/7 and I can actually have a conversation with my peers over lunch 😉 … so maybe it’s a refreshing thing… it’s all very 1999 and we managed then 🙂

If you are visiting China for a long period of time then I would suggest getting a Chinese SIM for your phone, there are many places you can purchase one from here, but you will need to unlock your phone or bring a spare non- smart phone with you.

Egg 🍳 

Brunch is really big in Shanghai *does a happy dance* and as you know I’m a big fan of brunch, breakfast and anything pancake related.


Egg is a really good, reasonably priced all day breakfast/brunch/brinner spot that has become quite popular with our company. The food is great and it’s got a really nice friendly feel to it. Their menu also includes smashed avocado on toast, chilli candied bacon and carrot cake pancakes 😋😋😋

  • Egg
  • 12 Xiangyang Bei Lu (near Julu Lu)
  • 8:00am – 6:30pm every day

It’s incredibly easy to eat well here with many healthy options on every street corner… and we need to talk about Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) my new favourite thing. 😋

Safe to say, Shanghai is a bit of a foodies paradise… I think I’m gonna like it here.

Our first two weeks here have been brilliant and we’ve only just started to explore… Yesterday we headed out to the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan… but more on that in next weeks blog 💛

Until then,

Love Emily xxx

Mount Huangshan 💛