Monthly Archives: November 2014

Visiting an old friend in Brisbane



After our brief Singapore stopover for INSEAD’s Admit Day, Donna and I caught a flight to Brisbane in order to pay a visit to my longtime friend, Kevin Sevilla, and his girlfriend, Andrea. Kevin and I go way back to middle school days and as soon as I heard about him moving to Brisbane for postdoc work in Engineering Education with Andrea, who is also a PhD in the same field, I knew that I’d have to pay them a visit. Kevin and Andrea went out of their way to roll out the red carpet for Donna and I, taking nearly the entire week off of work to show us around, donating their bedroom for us to sleep in, and opening up many awesome bottles from their wine collection for all of us to enjoy. It was a lesson in hospitality that I hope to have the honor of returning to them someday!

Our stay was only four days, but we packed a lot into the short time. Immediately upon arrival on Monday morning we went on a walking tour of the riverfront area of Brisbane and had a quality champagne lunch. Over the last couple of years Kevin’s sophistication has grown and it is clear that he knows how to enjoy the finer things in life. I was glad that he would always know what wine to order at restaurants and which cafes to grab a coffee; I was never disappointed with what I tasted!



Champagne lunch along the Brisbane River


The following day was more of checking out Brisbane. The Kentucky Derby of Down-Under, known as the Marlborough Cup, was being run that day so the girls donned derby bows in their hair and we ended up watching the race at the Brisbane Casino.   Afterwards we meandered the streets and found ourselves at a bowling alley where Donna utterly schooled me, including finishing her round with a Turkey – that’s 3 strikes in a row. I had no clue she had those bowling skills and will have to practice more in order to compete with her. We finished the day with a free ride on the Brisbane River public boat ferry, sampling a drink or two more on the way home.


The ladies all dolled up for the Marlborough Cup


Donna on her way to bowling a Turkey to finish her game.


The score card. She crushed me by 56 points!


Kevin and Andrea, surrounded by beer and sangria — just the way we like it!


Cool photo of the Brisbane ferris wheel. The white dot is the moon.


On Wednesday we planned on heading out of Brisbane. Kevin left it to me to decide where to go and although I had hoped to check out the surfing mecca of the Gold Coast, there was no swell so the surf spots I’ve seen in magazines and videos wouldn’t have any waves. Therefore I opted to head north towards the Sunshine Coast and take in some of the less crowded Australian beaches. First we stopped to do some SUPing in Caloundra. We rented paddleboards and planned for a relaxing journey across an estuary to make get to Birbie Island, but there was a raging tidal current that we could only beat by doing some walking along sand banks that had built up in the estuary. We ended up reaching our goal and hiking across the sliver of an island to the sea; the return was super easy and quick thanks to the current being with us. After SUPing we continued driving north and stopped at Peregian Beach for some fun antics and photos. By mid afternoon we made it to the chill beach hamlet of Noosa Heads. We went for a hike around the headland and Donna and I got our first look at a Koala that was hanging out high in a eucalyptus tree. Donna immediately fell in love with the cute and cuddly looking animal!


SUPing the estuary at Coloundra. An intense tidal current made it difficult for us to make progress towards our destination.


After 40 minutes of paddling we thought it’d be easiest to cheat our way to the island by walking along the huge sandbars that lined the estuary.


Goofing around at Peregian Beach


Donna handstand


Brandon handstand


1st Point at Noosa Heads


The Crew, shot #1


The crew, shot #2


We spotted this Koala high in his tree in the Noosa Heads National Park


Our last day was a highlight for Donna: checking out the Brisbane Koala Sanctuary. Donna was able to hold a Koala and we both had our first sightings of kangaroos, wallabies and many other animals unique to Australia. The bird show was especially cool and I enjoyed trying to capture images of the birds in flight.


Donna posing with a koala at the Sanctuary. She wanted to take him home, but they wouldn’t let her.


The granddaddy boss kangaroo in the petting area. I was surprised how tall and what big biceps these guys had!


Lots of kangaroo feeding went down


The ladies were super popular that day. Mainly because they had kangaroo food.


I was popular too!


Australian barn owl in flight


Barking owl


Peregrine falcon. This guy was too fast for me to get a good shot of in flight!


We watched a demonstration of how Australian border collies herd sheep. This was one technique I didn’t realize the dogs used: climbing on top of the sheep!


One last cute and cuddly koala shot


That evening was our last and Kevin was stoked that the time had come for him to drink a bunch of good wine from his collection. But first Kevin and I needed to go to his favorite bar called The Cobbler for some whiskey tasting, where we sampled some fine Tasmanian and Japanese single malts. Dinner was had from a food truck gathering right across the street from Kevin’s apartment and then we started the wine drinking. First Kevin opened two bottles of sparkling wine, one from Tasmania and the other (I think) from France (which would make it champagne), then we drank two bottles of full bodied red wine from southern Australia, and once happily buzzed we though it a good idea to finish the evening off with a fine Spanish sparkling wine. We went to bed late and had to catch a flight early the next day, but Donna and I’s slight hangovers were well worth all that tasty wine!


The crew again, this time hanging out at Mount Coot-tha overlooking Brisbane


The first 4 wines Kevin decided to pop open


This particular wine is from a winery called “Scott”, so we dedicated our consumption of said wine to our good friend Scott


Looking good and feeling good later in the night with a fine bottle of Spanish sparkling wine


Our stay was short and sweet and again I have to give credit and thanks to Kevin and Andrea for making everything so wonderful for Donna and I. You guys are the best!



Categories: Australia, Brisbane | Leave a comment

Weekend in Singapore

I was already super excited about INSEAD after connecting with a handful of classmates and alumni over the past few months in the US.  Then Brandon and I visited the INSEAD campus in Singapore for Welcome Day, which verified what an exciting year we have ahead! There were about 120 INSEAD’ers from my graduating class there from all over the world.  Everyone had a unique background. For example, we shared a lunch table with a classmate who was born in India but raised in Singapore and worked for a start up in South Africa. Turns out, this is a typical description for those who will be attending INSEAD!


INSEAD 2015D Singapore Admit Day group shot!

INSEAD 2015D Singapore Admit Day group shot!  (can you find Brandon and me)

We checked into the Residences on the Singapore campus on Halloween and began exploring Singapore, beginning with their delicious and cheap street food. Immediately after getting some sustenance, Brandon was seeking out the electronics mall (Sim Lim) to shop for camera lenses and drones. We took subways everywhere – they are clean and easy to follow in Singapore – and quickly learned that Singapore is not a place to break rules. For one, there was signage everywhere that fines of $500 – $1000 if you ate or drank in the subways! As a result, Singapore was spotless, which also made it more enjoyable for us as tourists. We called it a night relatively early since the next day would be a full day of networking and meeting my future classmates at the INSEAD Welcome Day.

Flying into Singapore, one of the largest ports in the world

Flying into Singapore, one of the largest ports in the world

Singapore has basically a semi-authortarian government, and the penalties are stiff for transgressions of their laws

Singapore has basically a semi-authortarian government, and the penalties are stiff for transgressions of their laws


The next morning, I made plans to finally meet JK, who was generous enough to lend me her room/apartment in Shanghai for 3 weeks this past summer after a quick WeChat conversation! Since I essentially lived her life in Shanghai, I filled her in on what she missed during her summer months in Argentina where she was learning Spanish. As suspected, she was awesome and it was great to meet her.  After JK, Brandon and I enjoyed our first coffee and then the Welcome Day kicked off with networking and more coffee (thankfully) and then a mock MBA strategy class. Unlike undergrad classes, this one kept my attention for the full 1.5 hours – hopefully all of INSEAD’s classes will follow suit! We also had a chance to hear a panel of alumni talk about their experiences at INSEAD. They unanimously agreed that one of the most beneficial aspect of the program were the people they met throughout their experience.


My first masters class

My first masters class


In front of the INSEAD Singapore campus marquee with Bryan and Mudit

In front of the INSEAD Singapore campus marquee with Bryan and Mudit

The Welcome Day wrapped up with a nice dinner before we all went out to the rooftop bar of the Marina Bay Sands, Ku De Ta. With mixed drinks priced at $24 and beers at $18, I learned how important apartment pre-parties must be at INSEAD.  Brandon also learned, the hard way, that dress codes are enforced. Unbeknownst to Brandon, Ku De Ta’s dress code did not permit slippers, which are sandals to those of us from the US. We quickly devised a plan with one of the guys from INSEAD. We would all head into the bar together, leaving Brandon outside temporarily. I would then sneak my classmate’s shoes back out of the bar in a purse, rendering him temporarily shoe-less and voila, Brandon would be let into the bar. It worked! I foresee more good friendships forming along these lines next year!


The nice dinner INSEAD put on for Admit day joiners.  Nick Hsu with Brandon and me

The nice dinner INSEAD put on for Admit day joiners. Nick Hsu with Brandon and me

View from the top of Marina Bay Sands at Ku De Ta overlooking the Singapore cityscape

View from the top of Marina Bay Sands at Ku De Ta overlooking the Singapore cityscape

The next day, Brandon and I were invited to play beach volleyball with one of my classmates and her friends. We ended our trip to Singapore on the beach playing volleyball and eating refreshing watermelon to cool off! Next up would be Brisbane to visit Brandon’s friends, Kevin and Andrea.


At the beach on Sentosa Island

At the beach on Sentosa Island

Playing some beach volleyball with new friends

Playing some beach volleyball with new friends

Categories: INSEAD, Singapore | 1 Comment

China Part 2: Zhangjiajie

After a week and a half of exploring the major Chinese metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai, it was time to head deep into Hunan Province for a taste of real China and its natural beauty.  We caught a flight from Shanghai to Changsha and met up with our tour group, which would guide our every minute for the next 6 days through Hunan Province.


On the way into Changsha, a city being rapidly built and supposedly soon to have the world's tallest building.

On the way into Changsha, a city being rapidly built and supposedly soon to have the world’s tallest building.

At this point, a description of Chinese tour groups is in order.  Our first taste had been in Beijing where Donna, Diane, and myself toured the Forbidden City & Great Wall and it turns out that the tour in Hunan would be like that but on steroids.  In China it seems like everybody tours everyplace in these organized tour groups, and for us there would be no exception thanks to Jenny organizing everything for the rest of us.  Wherever we went in touristy places in China we’d see a guide gingerly leading a large group of usually-but-not-always Chinese people around; you could spot a tour group from afar because the guide would hold up high a colored flag so that their flock can easily spot them.   When you’re on a tour, you have absolutely no say in what the activities are as the guides stick to a strict schedule and don’t seem to understand the meaning of “I don’t want to do that”.  My take on this is that in China people are less argumentative of authority, which makes sense given their political upbringing. The days would be long: you’re woken up from your slumber around 6:30 by a wake-up call pre-ordered to your room and then you’d get ready, eat breakfast and be off and onto the bus by 8am.  Then the many activities would then begin and they really pack a lot into each day, usually visiting 2 or 3 different sights or shows, and of course also including some “shopping”….


Life on a tour bus

Life on a tour bus

What do I mean by “shopping”?  Well, one good thing about these organized tours is that they are cheap.  Our Hunan tour included 6 nights of upscale hotel stays, 3 meals per day, entrance to all activities, plus the bus — all for $600.**  The key to the low price is “shopping”, by which I mean that about one-third to one-half of your time will be spent going to activities that are really glorified sales presentations where they hope you will drop $$ on whatever it is they are talking about.  We went to: a massage house where they rubbed our feet and tried to sell us various reflexology products, a tea house where they tried to sell us tea for 10x the price you could get it in a store for, a silk place where they showed us how silkworms make silk and then tried to sell us bedding, and a couple of places with awesome but expensive jade and pearl jewelry.  The tour guide gets a 4% commission of everything you buy, which is actually his primary form of compensation — and in our tour some of the older Chinese-Americans went bananas and spent thousands of dollars, so I am confident our guide did well!  To illustrate how important the shopping prsentations are to the whole operation: one time I hid in the bus because I didn’t want to go to a tea presentation and the guide flipped out on Donna and Mom when he realized I was gone because the vendors do strict head counts to ensure everyone they hope to sell to is present!  All that being said, the presentations are actually fairly informative nice and the products are high quality and in many cases, like the silk bedding, much cheaper than you’d be able to find in the West.


The ladies furiously negotiating pearl and jade prices with the store operator

The ladies furiously negotiating pearl and jade prices with the store operator


Donna checks out a necklace and earrings while I do what I did during most of the shopping experiences


** The shadiest part of the whole operation was that originally the price was $350, and once we were all on the bus for 4 hours on the first day, heading to Zhangjiajie, the tour guide informed us that to do “all” the activities, we’d have to cough up an extra $250, otherwise we’d be left out and forced to wait in the bus.  And obviously these were the more desirable activities, not the shopping!  People were pissed, including myself and many of the other tour patrons; it felt like a total bait-and-switch and I simply wasn’t going to let myself be screwed by some shady Chinese tour guide.  But in the end, Jenny’s cooler head prevailed and she paid the additional money for Donna and I, correctly reasoning that this was likely the only time we’d be in Zhangjiajie and we should make the most of it.  And the reality is, even after paying the extra $250 it was still a good deal when you consider the overall price of $600 was completely all-inclusive.


In the end the tour in Hunan was awesome and worth it.  Sure there were gruellingly long days, a shady bait-and-switch sales tactic, tons of forced shopping presentations, 3 meals a day of the-same-every-time Chinese food that left me not really wanting any more Chinese food, and a general feeling that you had no control over your schedule.  Also the tour guide spoke entirely in Mandarin so my Mom and I couldn’t understand a lick, but fortunately we had Donna and Jenny to translate for us.  But despite these gripes, looking back I realize I never would’ve been able to so many great Chinese places and pack so much into so little time,  especially in a country like China where a laowai like myself is a lost guppy.  As the following photos will demonstrate, we saw many amazing places and took in real Chinese culture.   Organized Chinese tours may not the way I prefer to travel, but like they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, and in this case we “did China” like the Chinese do, and it was a great time!


So, on to the fun part, where we went and what we saw…




We flew into Changsha and stayed in a nice hotel in the area.  There is nothing too awesome about Changsha, its just a big, rapidly developing city.


Fenghuang, aka “Phoenix”


The next day we made a long bus ride to Fenghuang, arriving around dusk.  The drive there was interesting because for much of of it we were on small roads and were able to see a more rural version of China.  I was impressed with how clean and advanced the Chinese way of life seemed; I guess I was expecting everything to look more poor as it does, for example, in rural Latin America.


Fenghuang is an ancient city built along a river on the western side of Hunan Province.  At night, which is when we explored the waterfront, all the buildings are lit up and the city comes alive.  Jenny, Donna, Mom and myself cruised around on a Friday night, checking out the shops, enjoying a drink, and taking photos of the cityscape.


Zhangjiajie, aka “Avatar-land”


The next morning we got back on the bus and headed east to Zhangjiajie.  When speaking to friends about what this place is, I would tell them I am going to “Avatar-land” because the National Park that we would be visiting there has unique limestone formations that inspired the “infamous floating islands of Pandora” in the movie Avatar.


There were 3 main areas in the National Park that we would visit.  The first was Tianmen Mountain, which accessible via a long gondala ride directly from the city of Zhangjiajie.  At the top of the mountain we were able to walk around the mountain via a glass bottom walkway and then we descended to check out the famous Tianmen Arch, which is so big that the Chinese version of the Blue Angels (not sure what they’re actually called) have flown in formation through the arch!  We descended back down via a windy road that I kept thinking about how fun it would be to race a Porsche up.


The next day we checked out other parts of Zhangjiajie National Park.  The first was Baofeng Lake, where we did a short hike that led us to a cool boat ride on a the lake surrounded by the classic limetsone mountains.  After that the second spot we went was called the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.  First we took another gondola to the top where we could view the epic limestone formations from the top.  The weather was somewhat foggy which was kind of a bummer for the sightseeing, but it was still amazing.  Then we took a bus to another area where we could view more and more of the formations.  I felt like a Navi walking around the floating world!


There were a few additional attractions we saw on our tour of Zhangjiajie.  The Yellow Dragon Cave was a cool walking tour where huge stalagtites and slagmites were lit up in fluorescently colored lights.  Also we saw a show at the Xiangxi Theatre that featured short performances with themes from various subcultures in Hunan Province. An interesting point about Hunan Province is that it’s where most of the Chinese minorities live today. And of course we went to various shopping outlets, where the ladies were stoked on buying pearl necklaces and pieces of exquisite jade.  At an art boutique Donna fell in love with sand tone painting technique pioneered by a local Hunan artist named Junsheng and I bought her a beautiful scenic painting depicting ancient rural life in the Zhangjiajie area, something we could take back with us and enjoy forever!


Back to Shanghai and Out of China


The five days flew by and before we knew it we were back in Changsha and then on a flight back to Shanghai where we would spend only half a day.  At this point Donna and I would break off and head to Singapore for INSEAD’s Admit Day, where we would tour the Singapore campus and meet her future colleagues.  Meanwhile, my Mom would head back to southern California and Jenny would head back to New York.


It was an amazing time in China and I feel super lucky to have experienced it with Donna and her Mom, who could translate and make everything so easy for me!  My Mom and myself were stoked!



Categories: Zhangjiajie | 2 Comments

China Part 1: Beijing & Shanghai

China Introduction

A couple of months ago, Brandon, his mom, my mom and I all decided to do a mini-tour of China together. It would be East meets West in more ways than one! It would also mark the first time our mom’s would meet and the first time Brandon and his mom have been to China. Rather than just dipping our toe into the introductions as is normally done over dinner or a drink, we would have our mom’s hang out continuously for two weeks! In order to arrange the tours, my mom worked directly with the tour groups in China to organize our trip, which would be spoken entirely in Chinese. Kudos to Brandon and his mom for their patience and willingness to participate 100% regardless of the language barrier. Over the next two weeks, we would be visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Zhangjiajie (inspiration behind the floating mountains in Avatar) in Hunan Province.


Brandon, his mom and I landed in Beijing from San Francisco on October 15th after a 12.5 hour flight. Out of luck and the connection of my dad working at United, Brandon and my standby seats turned out to be in global first class from SF to Beijing. Unfortunately we weren’t able to upgrade Brandon’s mom, Diane, to global first as she booked an actual economy class ticket – that said, the head steward on our flight hooked up Diane with glasses of fine wine and champagne throughout the long flight! Once we arrived in Beijing, we were immediately picked up by the pre-planned tour guide at the airport. From there, we were escorted by a van to the simultaneously elegant and kitschy King Wing International Hot Spring Hotel, which would be our home for the next three nights.

Global First champagne upon arrival to our seats!

Global First champagne upon arrival to our seats!

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Brandon catching up on the business news.


The following two days would be jam packed with Beijing tourist activities. The first day, Brandon, his mom and I (as jetlagged as we were) received our 6am wake-up call to start the day. After an enormous buffet breakfast consisting of both East and West style foods, and several cups of coffee,  we were loaded onto our tour bus and headed off to check out our first stop: Tian An Men Square. That same day, we visited the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.

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Brandon and myself with Chairman Mao nuzzled between us

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Our hotel in Beijing had a ridiculous name: King Wing International Hot Spring Hotel


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In front of the Tiananmen Gate Tower, which serves as the main entrance to the Forbidden City and is characteristically adorned with a portrait of Chairman Mao.

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I’m not sure what this huge flower pot is in the middle of Tiananmen Square is supposed to symbolize, but Diane and I felt compelled to get a photo in front of it!

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Throngs of people in the Forbidden City

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Brandon hiding behind an old and valuable sculpture of some kind.

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Fun photo with Diane!

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Since the tour guide spoke only Mandarin, Brandon was happy to have his an automated tour guide explaining to him in English what all the buildings in the Forbidden City were used for

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Hey Lauren Willis – Can you guess what those Chinese characters mean? … if you guessed “Starbucks” you’d be right!

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Rickshaw driver

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Great architecture in the Forbidden City

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We visited the Summer Palace, which is surround by a vast and beautiful lake

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Brandon and I took a rickshaw ride in Old Beijing

On day two, Diane and I went to visit a small section of the Great Wall about that was an hour drive outside Beijing. Diane and I climbed to the top of one section of the Great Wall and received personalized medals to prove it! We both agreed that heading down was much harder than walking up. China has a famous saying about the Great Wall: 不到长城非好汉 (He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man). Brandon did not make it to the Great Wall with us that day 😉 He had prior obligations to meet his friend, Roger, who has been running a Chinese peer to peer lending business in Beijing. Brandon’s friend, Colin, also joined us in Beijing. The boys spent the afternoon nerding out and discussing the potential for business opportunities in China before an epic dinner of Beijing’s famous, Peking Duck.

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Brandon’s mom, Diane


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Diane and myself climbed all the way to the top of what you see in this picture and earned medals for our achievement!


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That’s a long wall!


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At the Forbidden City

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Diane in front of the Beijing Olympic Stadium

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Me posing with the strange Chinese mascot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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As with pretty much everyplace in Beijing, the classic Nanluogo Lane shopping street was completely packed with tourists.

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Brandon was happy to find a good beer spot to have a drink at!

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Found this guy all dolled up along Nonluogo Lane.

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Brandon and Diane toasting to a refreshing beverage along Nanluogu Lane.


At the offices of Pandai, a Peer-2-Peer lending company run by Brandon's friend Roger in Beijing

At the offices of Pandai, a Peer-2-Peer lending company run by Brandon’s friend Roger in Beijing

All in all, it was a fun and eye opening trip to Beijing. We were lucky with the weather – the first two days were blue skies! The pollution skyrocketed on the fourth and last day we were there (411 on a scale of 1000 – extremely hazardous). It also happened to be the day of the Beijing marathon… turned out that 80% of the runners didn’t finish the race. Although Beijing has a lot of character and thousands of years of history, the pollution makes it difficult to live there. However, it’s certainly worth a visit if you haven’t been before!


Our next stop along the tour de China was Shanghai. This place was my jam. After having spent three and a half weeks in a future INSEAD classmate’s centrally located Shanghai apartment earlier this summer, it was the one city in China I sort of knew. I had only scratched the surface of the city in that time period, but I liked what I saw. I had made great friends there who showed me the ropes and gave me a chance to experience the real Shanghai from the perspective of a young adult. These guys knew how to have a good time and it was my turn to show Brandon, his mom, Colin and my mom, who I was most excited to show the new Shanghai!

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Bullet Train station in Beijing.

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The bullet train brought us from Beijing to Shanghai at a cool 306 km/h. That’s 190 mph.


My mom was born and raised in Shanghai from the mid 50’s – late 70’s before moving to Hong Kong and ultimately New York with her family. It goes without saying, her city has undergone such massive changes over those years that, were it not for street names remaining the same, she wouldn’t have recognized her childhood neighborhood! It was a strange feeling to know more about my mom’s hometown than she did, but that simply shows how rapidly Shanghai has developed in the last couple of decades. It’s now considered the business capital of China with a population growth rate of 20% per year. At that rate, it’s no surprise that high rises and retail shops can be seen for miles on end in every direction you look in Shanghai.

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The classic view of the Pundong business district which sits just across the Shanghai Huangpu River from The Bund.

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None of those high-rise buildings existed when my mother lived in Shanghai 30 years ago.


We lucked out on our Airbnb accomodations in Shanghai, staying in a 4 bedroom luxury apartment overlooking the famous skyscape, The Bund. Every morning my mom picked up hot Chinese breakfasts for us all before we went exploring the city. We took pictures along The Bund, rode a ferry across the river to Pudong, walked through Old Shanghai, and checked out an aggressive fake market where you could buy everything from faux-(ro)lexes and drones to iPhones and chopsticks. At one point, we found Brandon getting chased down the aisle by a fake rolex merchant after a negotiation went wrong. The price started at 600rmb ($100), but Brandon asked for 150rmb ($25), at which point the chase commenced. Brandon won the negotiation, but ultimately lost in the end when two out of four of his fake rolexes stopped ticking under 30 minutes after the purchase. Luckily he was able to get a refund for the two broken Rolexes!

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We were on the 8th floor of this luxury apartment building thanks to AirBnB!

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The view from the breakfast nook inside our Shanghai luxury pad.

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The Old Shanghai market

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Brandon and Diane in the Old Shanghai market

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Useless but fun trinkets abound in Chinese markets

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Brandon and Colin found these drones for sale in Old Shanghai and bought 2 of them, plus 5 extra batteries. They provided hours of entertainment.

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It cracked us all to see that Budweiser is still one of the beers of choice in China.

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Looking to the West along The Bund, the original heart of Shanghai


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Group shot at from The Bund with the Pundong skyscape in the background


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Fun photo at The Bund

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How inappropriate!

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Brandon couldn’t resist mounting a golden elephant statue he found in Pudong for this ridiculous shot

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Hooters has truly gone global, with a location right in the heart of the Shanghai business district in Pudong

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View of the Oriental Pearl Tower from the 38th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel.

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Posing in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower

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At the center of the biggest mall in Pudong… you guessed it, an Apple Store!


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An assortment of $25 Rolexes that look good enough from a slight distance to fool anyone… that is unless they notice that they aren’t ticking

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With the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, Brandon got to work hacking the Great Firewall of China and getting an post-season package so that we could stream the game live to the TV in the Shanghai apartment!


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Walking with the madre’s from our Shanghai apartment

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Group Pic after the amazing acrobatics show!

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Brandon and me under the spot light at a movie premier my friends got us into during fashion week in Shanghai!

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Monnie bartending at the movie premier after-party

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Movie premier with famous Hong Kong actors who we didn’t know – we got into the premier with badges that said we were working for my friend’s ad agency!

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Brandon’s first haircut in China – luckily they didn’t give him the Asian styled faux-hawk, which is the latest trend there


Other highlights of Shanghai include an impressive acrobatics show after dinner at the famous Old Jessie restaurant. My mom also made a Chinese feast of epic proportions for us all one night at the apartment. It was then that Brandon realized I should be a good cook given my roots, but I haven’t yet shown him my capabilities. Thanks to my mom, the bar is now set quite high! On one of our final nights in Shanghai, my uncles Jack and Franck, treated us to a delicious dinner at Jade Garden restaurant in Xin Tian Di, which is a very trendy area of Shanghai. The entire family was together to enjoy each other’s company over good Shanghai-style food and wine that I had brought from California. It was great to see Jack and Franck. Brandon and I will be seeing more of them next year in Paris as they spend quite a bit of time in France.

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Epic family shot at the Jade Garden restaurant, with Uncle Jack and his husband Frank, Mom, myself, Diane, Brandon and Grandma


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My Mom (Jenny), my Grandma, and me

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Nighttime view from the apartment of The Bund with the Old Shanghai shopping area lit up in the foreground

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My Mom went shopping in the local markets and grabbed all the ingredients necessary to cook an authentic Shanghai meal

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Eating the excellent Chinese meal prepared by my Mom

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These were the two drones that Brandon and Colin bought. The one on the bottom was the first one purchased and eventually broke due to constant abuse at which point Brandon dissected it to see how it was built.


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On our last evening in town we stopped by my friend Monnie’s apartment, where I lived when I was in Shanghai the previous month, and enjoyed the whiskey and company of Monnie and a few of her friends!

We left Shanghai for Zhangjiajie with many wonderful memories of the city and of the time we spent with family there!

Categories: Beijing, China, Shanghai | 3 Comments

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