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A great travel experience always begins with a great flight and this is exactly what we got. Singapore Airlines – what can I say other than best in-flight service I have experienced to- date. Great airline, good selection of onboard movies, TV, documentaries, a healthy menu with 2 options, both vegetarian & non vegetarian for every meal & ice cream, which I can never say “no” to…

Arriving into Pudong Airport, Shanghai, somewhat tired after a good 15 hours travelling & not much sleep to go on, I was excited to see what Shanghai & China had to offer over the next 7 days.

Shanghai has a population of approximately 23 million people; on any one day about 6 million of these people are visitors to the city.

A quick trip to the Hotel to freshen up – The four star XUHUI INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE SUITES for about ½ an hour before we headed off for our afternoon tour of Yu Gardens followed by some time in the markets where you can buy anything from a cheap rip off Rolex watch to a live chicken if you wanted. Followed by a dinner & river cruise from which we watched the banks of the river come to life in an array of lights & neon signs – quite spectacular!

Domestic tourism is a huge market in China, so anywhere we went to as European looking Kiwi’s there were always a few bus loads of Chinese people as well.

Off to Suzhou – often described as China’s version of the famous European floating City of Venice & a walk through the Garden, strangely named ‘The Master of the Fishing Net – (I am yet too see a fishing net) with its famous lime stone sculptures. We boarded a boat to Cruise the Canal’s of Suzhou City, (not quite the Gondola’s of Venice) these ones had motors & held about 60 people each. We found the bustling bars & scenes along the canal front entertaining to say the least – almost to the point of bribing the captain to let us stop for a beer. A visit to the Silk Factory where everything from silk shirts to duvets were purchased by the group & we learned about how the silk is transformed from the silk worms to duvet.

An evening visit to the local supermarket, was possibly one of the highlights of the trip; we went to purchase lunch for the next day, due to trains cost being very expensive. This is not your standard New World or Countdown folks; they sell everything from clothing to 5 whole rows of different chocolate & sweets, amongst the live turtles & fish that can be purchased. With 67 checkouts open an estimated 5000 + people in there at the same time as us it was rather hard to get around.

The Train to Beijing, travelling at 300 plus km/h, covered 1300 km’s in just over 5 hours including short stops along the way. I must say, I think this is the closest I have been to being in a Formula One Car for speed.

Beijing is a stunningly vibrant city with an amazing atmosphere. A visit to the famous Wangfujing markets was an interesting experience. A bit of shopping followed by a beer was great, although we could have done without the thunderstorm that hit us as we were about to leave. The meal that evening was traditional Peking duck which was a delight on the taste buds.

Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City were next on our agenda & then what all the girls had been waiting for – The Silk Markets – 5 stories high selling everything from fake Rolex watches, Callaway Golf Clubs to Gucci Handbags & clothing – bartering was the way to buy & some fun was had haggling; there were a few full suitcases on the way home. Thanks to Singapore Airlines for the extra luggage allowance.

Another bucket list item was ticked off with a visit to The Great Wall of China – what a fantastic place. I found myself wondering how they managed to successfully build it, all those years ago in such steep terrain. Following our Great Wall experience we were off to Summer Palace – the largest and best preserved of all Palace Gardens with sights such as ‘The Long Corridor’ and ‘Marble boat’.

Singapore: We had an early start the following morning, back to the airport to fly to Singapore. Arriving in Singapore about mid afternoon we had a couple of hours free time to explore before heading down to the famous Clark Key area for quite possibly the 1st Western food we had tasted since we left home – most were after a greasy feed of Fish & Chips & sure weren’t disappointed.

Day two in Singapore saw a guided tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens – then off to Sentosa Island for some Hotel Inspections before a quick walk around Universal Studio’s before catching our flight home.

Overall impression of China & Singapore was great, well worth a visit and would definitely enjoy a longer visit in Singapore next time through.

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