Hangzhou & Shanghai

Author: , July 22nd, 2016

Hangzhou & Shanghai

The sun is setting…I think. I’ve arrived in Shanghai after a 15-hour flight, and I’m not sure what day it is, let alone what time of day: the permanent haze that hovers over much of China’s 3.7 million square miles masks any clues. Shanghai Pudong International Airport offers a harsh juxtaposition of the familiar and the unknown, a theme that will reappear throughout my journey to two of China’s major east coast cities.

I hop on a shuttle bus that takes me southwest from Shanghai’s city center to Hangzhou. The cities blur together along the two-hour journey (or 45 minutes by bullet train), where endless clusters of high-rise complexes blend into one another. Imagine the Vegas Strip held up to a mirror, an endless stream of towering residential buildings, outlined in neon and saturated floodlights. But as I peer out the window amid the slowly chugging traffic, closer inspection reveals a kind of post-apocalyptic urban planning to accommodate the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants. Construction cranes pierce the skyline and it’s hard to tell whether certain projects are underway or have been abandoned midstream. China, I am soon to find out, is a country and a people of contradiction.

HANGZHOU – RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH

For most Westerners (including myself prior to this trip), Hangzhou may not be on your China bucket list, but consider adding a few days to your itinerary to explore a city that, at least by the standards of ear- lier centuries, was one of the most powerful ports in the world. The Sui Empire finished the Grand Canal in 609 CE, a 1,100-mile engineering feat that finally connected Hangzhou to Beijing in the north and positioned it as a vital trading post.

Hangzhou’s port eventually filled with silt in the 15th century, but skip ahead 600 years or so, and you’ll find a thriving metropolis for the new millennium. It’s now a major technology hub with Alibaba Group at its epicenter, a multi-faceted e-commerce company that holds the record for the largest IPO of all time on the New York Stock Exchange, totaling $25 billion. Put that mind-boggling figure momentarily aside, along with worries that China could conceivably crash the global economy. Hangzhou’s wonders lie in its natural beauty and deep traditions of culture and cuisine. Transcend political agendas and appreciate the region for its hidden gems that remain some of China’s greatest gifts.

By Matthew Wexler – Full Story at Passport Magazine

Carlos Melia – My Dining Recommendations in Shanghai

Author: , September 2nd, 2015

Carlos Melia in Hong Kong

From top to down and dirty, here are my top gourmet experiences in Shanghai, on both sides of the Huang Pu River. Hope you enjoy my recommendations and Bon Appetite. !!!!

Sir Elly’s Restaurant at The Peninsula Hotel Shanghai. Dinner at Shanghai’s premier destination venue and my favorite dinning experience on the Bund, followed by cocktails at the chic and happening Sir Elly’s Rooftop Bar & Terrace over looking the Oriental Tower, Pudong and the Huangpu River. Sir Elly’s Restaurant, Modern European cuisine with a French twist. Breathtaking views of the city and in our private experience, UBER romantic.

Sir Elly’s wine list offers an impressive selection of over 400 labels, ensuring that diners will find the right pairing to suit any mood or occasion. Then we moved on to the bustling Sir Elly’s Rooftop Bar & Terrace, where we had our table booked overlooking the glittering skyline of Pudong. FYI the dirty Vodka Martinis where amazing. I also did a full walk around the Peninsula Hotel Shanghai, and I must say, I was quite impressed with it.

Carlos Melia in Hong KongNext experience worth checking out, is Jin Xuan Restaurant located on the 53rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong. Followed by after cocktails at Pundong’s hottest rooftop bar and terrace Flair. Jin Xuan showcases the very best traditional Cantonese cuisine amidst spectacular decor and superlative warm service. Chef, Daniel Wong, has been named Chinese Executive Chef at Jin Xuan for The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, bringing more than 20 years of hands-on experience.

His authentic, yet creative, Cantonese cuisine inspires patrons from Shanghai, China and beyond. Flair, a very fashionable and cool lifestyle lounge in Shanghai serving Asian tapas and raw seafood bar, located on the 58th floor. This time on the other side of the Huangpu River in Pudong, with panoramic views of The Bund and Puxi. I also did a full walk around the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong, so do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Ok now we are done with the fancy venues – which I LOVE – and lets move to other options. Just so you know, I like to dine like a King, but for lunches I like to go down and dirty and local. Here are two options for lunch and a great location to do the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

Carlos Melia in Hong KongTian Zi Fang Market in Puxi – which by the way I found it to be my favorite district in Shanghai, being full of local personality and feeling original to its roots, unlike modern Pudong. At this huge market you can find hundreds of options to eat on the streets or at a restaurant. There are plenty of local artisans, artist and stores in the market for you to spend at least half a day exploring. My options here were: some Chicken and vegetarian Baozi first – Chinese steamed buns, followed by one of my absolute favorite Korean dishes, Bibimbap.

Next stops – on the way to my final destination at the Confusius Temple – was to enjoy the street food along the area of Wen Miao. All I can say is… this was noodle soups galore. No place in particular, just walk around and risk it to your favorite food car or pseudo restaurant. Call me crazy, but I love food street specially in Asian countries like China, Thailand and specially India. Yes I have paid the price, but this food is well worth a stomach flu.

Final stop was the Shanghai Confucian Temple, where we did a lovely Chinese Tea Experience – and shopping ha ha ha. Shanghai Confucian Temple, also known as Wen Miao Temple. is an ancient temple and was built to pay homage to Confucius. It is the main temple of Confucius in Shanghai, and is similar to the renowned temples as the original Temple of Confucius in his hometown Qufu,

End of my gourmet journey in Shanghai, heading back to my hotel in Pudong, the Four Season Hotel Pudong to chill and relax enjoying the panoramic views from my room.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – High Speed Train Beijing to Shanghai and Back

Author: , July 4th, 2015

Carlos MeliaIf there is a great way to travel within China is by their super comfortable High-Speed Trains by CRH – China Railway High-Speed. We connected three destinations Beijing – Shanghai – West Lake/Hangzhou using both their Business and Economy Class. 300 Kilometers and hour to move across China in full comfort and smoothly. One suggestion, buy your tickets online time before your trip. If you need help with reliable ways to do this, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Our journey began at Beijing Nan South Train Station, which not only was immaculate clean, but also huge. So please allow time to arrive, get yourself familiar with the gates, and DO NOT FORGET, you need to collect your tickets, and than takes at least 10 to 15 minutes. In 4 hours and 48 minutes, after an ultra comfortable ride, we arrived to Shanghai Hongqiao Train Station.

Here you can see all my photos on our experience in Business Class. The configuration from Beijing to Shanghai was totally different from the one back. But on both cases, we had a full flat bed cocoon seat. The downsides are: no internet on board. Despite they do have personal TVs, there was no entertainment available.

During the ride you will get snacks, drinks and a full meal (which you might or not like). The formation has a Cafeteria car, but be careful, you might not like what they have to offer. Our choice was beer and nori, literally. On my way back I decided to buy my own snack at the train station.

On our ride from Shanghai to/from the West Lake/Hangzhou, since this is a one hour and 20 minutes ride, they only offer Economy Class, which was totally fine and comfortable too, with a fine seat and pitch.

Without a doubt, I will chose the High-Speed train over flights anytime. If possible, if you take the trains arriving to Beijing or Shanghai after 11PM, book your car transfer in advance and have someone waiting for you at the train station. Otherwise you might cue for two hours to get a taxi out.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources

Easy Hikes from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong

Author: , May 10th, 2014

Great Wall of ChinaShanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong are without a doubt the centers of modern Chinese culture and the focal points around which most travelers will plan their trips to the Middle Kingdom. But these mega-cities represent only one view of the country; for a more balanced look at the whole of China, consider venturing out into the rural areas as well. Luckily, there are great options for nature and hiking within just a few hours of each of the major cities. Shake up your next trip to China by embarking on one of these hikes:

Hiking the Great Wall – Near Beijing

Perhaps the most obvious choice on the list, what traveler wants to leave China without experiencing the Great Wall? Rather than visiting the overcrowded sections like Badaling and Juyongguan, though, go further away from Beijing.

The easiest of these outer sections to reach is Jinshalaing, and from there you can walk for several hours along partially restored sections of the wall and through abandoned guard towers to reach the Simatai area. This hike involves a lot of ascent and descent as the Great Wall traces the rolling hills of the terrain, but offers an enlightening look at what it might have been like to patrol this military fortification for Chinese soldiers long ago.

By Stephen Lioy – Shermans Travel | China Gay Travel Resources

Upcoming Gay Travel Events: Prague, Sardinia, Bristol, Chicago, Shanghai

Author: , May 16th, 2013

Gay Pride Flag San FranciscoWe’ve got news on a bunch of upcoming gay travel events for you:

MR. GAY EUROPE STARTS JULY 26TH IN PRAGUE

First off, the Mr. Gay Europe contest runs fron 7/26-7/31 in the Czech Republic. Rainbow Tourism reports:

This old, historical capital has long been known for its friendly and attractive people, but never more soon then when representatives from several European countries gay communities flock here to vie for the title of Mr. Gay Europe. Spread out over 6 days, this event will see the candidates widdled down to a narrow group in an intense competition to see who will take the reigns and represent Europe’s gay community.

Click here for gay travel resources in the Czech Republic.

BRISTOL TO HOST GAY RUGBY TOURNAMENT NEXT WEEK

Over in the UK, Bristol is set to host the gay Union Cup between May 23rd and 26th. Gay Star News reports:

This year 550 gay rugby players from teams including Stockholm, Berlin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Dublin will travel to Bristol to compete, bringing an estimated #25,000 to the city’s local economy. Tournament director David Arid said: ‘The idea of a gay and gay-friendly rugby club is to provide an accepting environment in which players can develop their sporting potential without fear of prejudice.

Click here for gay travel resources in Gloucestershire.

INTERNATIONAL MISTER LEATHER STARTS NEX WEEK

The world-famous leather-fest IML begins on May 24th. GoPride reports:

This year marks the 35th annual International Mister Leather conference and competition, more commonly known by its acronym IML. Not limited to leather only, IML welcomes rubbermen, sports gear enthusiasts, pups and their handlers and a whole host of other fetish folk for a long weekend of conferences, competitions and parties celebrating a shared sexual deviance.

Click here for gay travel resources in Illinois.

SARDINIA’S SECOND ANNUAL GAY PRIDE PARADE IN JUNE

The island of Sardinia in Italy will celebrate its second annual Pride Parade on June 29th, with a series of events leading up to it. Gay Star News reports:

The announcement of the event’s details comes after the first pride, last year, was attacked by right-wing politicians who declared the Mediterranean island doesn’t need the event. The ‘Queeresima’ – 40 days of events – will culminate in the final parade on the beach on 29 June. But there’s more to the festival than music and drag queens.

Click here for gay travel resources in Sardinia, Italy.

SHANGHAI CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS OF PRIDE IN JUNE

And in Shanghai, China, the city will celebrate its fifth Gay Pride on June 14th. LGBT Weekly reports:

June 14 the LGBT community in Shanghai will come together to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The eight-day event will be host to the usual assorted revelry, shirtlessness and tight Lycra short shorts. But amid the festivities, a note of seriousness will underscore what many see as an accomplishment in and of itself. “A week-long string of events has been planned to boost the LGBT’s community position in China and raise awareness around LGBT themes including marriage equality, sexual health and societal acceptance,” note event organizers.

Click here for gay travel resources in China.