LoveMaryLu for Lanson Place Jin Qiao

Hi everyone! If you follow me on social media and especially Snapchat, you probably know that I was away during the past week in Shanghai, China. To give you a little background, my family was originally from there and in Shanghai, they have their own dialect, but it was never spoken at home so I can’t speak or understand much of it. The last time I visited Shanghai was about 10 years ago, so this year I decided that it was time I returned for another visit to go back to my roots. 🙂 Essentially, I was a tourist there because I didn’t know where anything was but luckily I had a friend that was visiting Shanghai from South Africa too, plus I can speak Mandarin so communication wasn’t an issue for me. I’ll be writing a series of posts about my visit to Shanghai including a review of the 2 hotels which accommodated me during my stay in Shanghai and the city in general, some tips and so fourth.

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I was in Shanghai for a total of 5 nights and the first 2 nights, I stayed at Lanson Place Jin Qiao, which was a serviced apartment (pretty much the same as a hotel). The residence belongs to the same hotel group that accommodated us during our stay in Hong Kong, click here to read my review. The major part of Shanghai is separated by the West and East side of the HuangPu River which runs through the city. The hotel which we stayed at for the first 2 nights is located on the East side of the HuangPu River, which is the same side as the airport. Due to our delay at the Hong Kong airport, we only arrived at the residence late into the evening.

One thing I MUST comment on is the scent of the reception as you step into the residence, it smells exactly like the Lanson Place in Hong Kong and since I had such great memories during my stay at Lanson Place in Hong Kong, I automatically felt welcomed and at home when I stepped into Lanson Place Jin Qiao in Shanghai.

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The residence is conveniently located right opposite a shopping mall filled with shops and restaurants and also one street away from the metro station. It rained continuously for the first 2 days we were there but I didn’t mind because the residence was so beautifully decorated on the inside, I could spend countless hours downstairs cuddling with a book on the couch in the numerous lounges the residence offers. The lounge was my favourite part of the residence as it boasts wall to wall shelves of luxurious books, with fictions, non-fictions and magazines that cover almost every topic. There were also numerous books on traveling, which made me leaving the residence to explore the greater city of Shanghai even more difficult than it already is. There were also shelves of DVD’s to choose from to make staying indoors ever-more-bearable especially on those rainy days.

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The apartment unit that we stayed in was equally impressive because it was spacious and modern. The best part is that it felt like home; it was cosy and comfortable, like how a home should be. Our unit had 2 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room conjoined with the lounge area and a balcony, which was obviously too big for just E and I, but we didn’t mind because that just means we can walk around freely without bumping into each other. 🙂 As expected, the residence is well-kept, clean (very important for me) and the amenities provided ensure that you’re well taken care of during your stay.

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Eventually when the rain does stop, the residence boasts a beautiful and enchanting garden, perfect for picnics and lunches when the sun comes out. Luckily on our last day, it stopped raining so we could explore the garden area at Lanson Place.

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The main difference between a typical hotel and a serviced residence is that there are no restaurants in the serviced residence. Breakfast is typically served during the weekday from 7am to 10am downstairs in the lounge area. It was a continental breakfast buffet that had a variety of fruits, yogurts, cereals, cold meats, cheeses and breads to offer. The best part about Shanghai is that food is readily available pretty much everywhere, the fact that the residence is located right opposite a mall makes eating out even more convenient. However, if you would much prefer to eat in then I’m sure the kitchen will come in handy and ordering food over the phone from various restaurants is easy and convenient in Shanghai.

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One of the perks in staying at Lanson Place Jin Qiao is that there are still reception and concierge services on the ground floor so if you ever need tourist information or you need a cab, the friendly staff downstairs are always willing to help. Typically, these serviced residences cater for those who are looking for a long-term rental such as months or even a year, which explains why it’s less busy with people going in and out constantly compared to a hotel.

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Lastly, a services residence or a hotel isn’t complete without a gym for me. Lanson Place Jin Qiao offers a full equipped gym which is accessible to all the guests staying at Lanson Place, as long as the guest has an access card. I couldn’t help myself but to use the facilities of course, just because I’m on holiday, doesn’t mean that I can’t be at gym doing my exercise. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my post and found my review helpful, if you find yourself in Shanghai one day. Make sure you check back for my other Shanghai posts! Enjoy your weekend everyone!

With love…xxx

Travelling for Beginners

Hi everyone! Since i’ve been back from my holiday, many of you have been sending me emails asking me questions about my travels i.e. hotels, visas, airlines and so on. Seeing that many of you asked the same questions, I figured it would be pretty useful to address it all in a blog post rather than reply to you individually (I promise I read each and every single one of your emails). 🙂

 

First things first, if you still haven’t heard, I’m giving away an Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette on my blog, see details by clicking here. 🙂

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If you’re planning your first holiday overseas, I really hope that you find this post helpful because everything on here is knowledge that I’ve gained over the years of my travels. I started travelling at a young age because my parents are immigrants in South Africa, so naturally we have a lot of family overseas. Of course it’s not until recent years that I started to travel to places that I truly wanted to go instead of the family visits. Since I’m old enough to travel on my own, this comes with planning and paying for my own holidays (booooo). When it comes to holidays, I prefer minimal surprises (unless good surprises) so I always do a lot of research beforehand, here’s a simple step-by-step guide of how I plan and execute my holidays:

1. Manage your finances…

Many of us travel on a budget, whether you stick to it is another story but the first thing I ask myself is, “how much am I willing to spend on this holiday?”. I promise that once you have carved out your budget for your trip, everything else will flow naturally because your budget will dictate your holiday destination (assuming you’re not sure where you want to go yet), your hotels, your flight and your entertainment while you’re on holiday. You’ll have to set a total budget of your whole holiday, then you’ll need to break it down between flights, hotels, transport, food, shopping and entertainment. Don’t worry, it’s just a rough estimate for now because things will change when you start doing your research.

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2. Where to go… 

I’m sure there are many of you out there who are like me in that I don’t know where yet but I just want to travel and be on holiday. One of the deciding factors of my decision on where to go is where I went last, did I go to the East or the West? Was it an island or a city type of holiday? Was it winter or summer on my last holiday? This is just to give me an idea on where I should go next, preferably the opposite of my previous holiday. Obviously you can’t be asking yourself those questions if you’re planning your first holiday, so then you’ll have to ask yourself whether you want to relax or explore, and also what activities will make you the happiest.

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3. Visas…

Once you’ve settled on a destination, it’s always good to find out what the visa requirements are with the passport that you hold. I’m just going to assume that you have a passport but if you don’t you can apply for one from your nearest home affairs and it’s usually pretty quick, takes about 3 weeks. I recommend going on the website of the relevant country, read up on your visa requirements if you need to apply for a visa beforehand or just an arrival visa when you land. For example, both the UK and the USA require you to apply for a visa before you fly if you hold a South African passport. Places like Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines just requires an arrival visa when you land. Some visas that you apply beforehand will require you to have confirmed your flights and hotels but some recommend that you don’t book your flights or hotels yet until your visa has been approved.

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4. Flights…

Although there are many good deals that the travel agents may be offering, I always recommend doing your own research first. Once you have decided on a destination, you need to get on Google and make sure you find out all the airlines that fly to your destination, some may have layovers and some may be direct. I’ve often found that the direct flights are always a little more pricey compared to ones with layover, of course it’s better to fly direct because some layovers are so long and horrendous, plus it cuts your holiday shorter just by a little bit when every second counts!

South African Airways fly to many destinations worldwide directly but SAA isn’t always the cheapest or more comfortable choice. Singapore Airlines is one of my favourites, it flies directly to Singapore which convenient for trips to Asia and the Pacific, plus Singapore is such a great city to stop over if you want to stay for a day or two. Emirates always have great specials and discounts for their flights so make sure you watch out for those, the only thing about flying with Emirates is that you have to stop-over at Dubai, unless Dubai is one of your destinations, the stop-over can be quite long and tedious. After you’ve checked the prices of your flights, you can either call a travel agent to see if they offer a better price or just book them online. Last thing, join the loyalty programme of the airline that you fly, most airlines are members of a club so you can accumulate points even if you fly with another airline but in the same club.

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4. Hotels…

I am super picky about the hotels I stay at because even though I’m not OCD, I’m petrified of dirty beds and bathrooms. I believe that all good hotels use white sheets and bedding so you can actually see how clean they are (what do they have to hide?!). I always choose my hotels very carefully when it comes to my holidays because convenience is very important for me, I always make sure I stay at a convenient location close to all transport and shopping. Of course hotels aren’t the only accommodation you can find, I also recommend going on Airbnb to take a look for cheaper options. Before we decide to stay somewhere, we always do some research to find out where the financial district is of the city because then you’ll have an idea where all the great hotels are. I recommend going on a few websites before booking your hotel, definitely compare the prices between the hotel’s website and others such as Booking.com and Expedia.

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5. Entertainment…

Besides from actually going on holiday, my favourite part up until then is the actual research. I like to know a place relatively well before I go, I like to know my way around (roughly), what activities there are and what restaurants the masses recommend. This is when Tripadvisor comes in pretty handy, there you’ll find reviews of cities, suburbs, restaurants, recreational activities, hotels and everything in between. Try starting your research by typing in Google search, “top 10 things to do in…” and trust me there are tons to be found!

I really hope this post was informative! Good luck with the planning!

With love…xxx

 

My Fitness Story: Holiday Food

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great week so far! Just one more day to go and then it’s the weekend! 🙂 I’ve had many great feedback since I started the “My Fitness Story” posts and please keep the feedback coming! If I haven’t addressed all your questions, I promise that I will get to it eventually. Since I’ve been back home from my holiday, I’ve received a few emails asking me about my diet when I’m on holiday, like what I eat and whether I cheat since I’m overseas and naturally I would want to try all the deliciousness out there.

The short and easy answer is, yes! I cheat and I eat whatever I want on holiday BUT you also have to bear in mind that my holidays aren’t food orientated, I eat the normal 3 meals a day and sometimes even 2. When I’m on holiday, I eat when I’m hungry and I snack only when I feel like snacking. In all honesty, I’m so busy exploring, shopping or being a beach bum that I don’t get hungry. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that my all time favourite meal of the day is breakfast (surprise surprise) and that’s the one meal I don’t skip when I’m on holiday and I make sure I eat a good, wholesome and hearty meal for breakfast before I start my day. The best are those hotel breakfast buffets – I tend to pig out a little because I like to try a bit of everything. After a massive breakfast, my next meal is normally between lunch and dinner, then I’ll have a proper meal again. If I’m feeling peckish, I’ll snack in between when I’m on the go.

Do I feel bad about my diet when I’m on holiday? Not really because my holidays generally consist of a LOT of walking, abnormal amounts of walking for us who live in SA and drive everywhere. Public transport is super efficient and convenient especially in Hong Kong, so naturally walking would be part of everyday life. On average, I would say we walked about 7km a day when we’re in Hong Kong, obviously some days are more and some days are less. Walking then combined with the summer humidity there, say goodbye to any form of appetite for a big meal. 🙂

Of course, you cannot go traveling and not be tempted by local delicacies (that’s the best part about traveling to new places) so here are some things I had while I was on holiday, which isn’t even a proper glimpse of the amount of deliciousness I had while I was away. The one thing I love about going to Asia is the food, sure I love a good pizza and a burger with fries every now and again but if I could choose, I’ll choose to eat Asian food for the rest of my life. There’s never a dull moment!

This is what we had for dinner one night at a local restaurant with traditional barbecue pork. It was amaaaaazing!

This is what we had for dinner one night at a local restaurant with traditional barbecue pork. It was amaaaaazing!

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These are the devil! Equivalent to our Whispers by Cadbury but E bought an entire tub of this stuff! I would eat it in between in our hotel room while getting ready.

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Noodles for breakfast! One of my favourite things to eat for breakfast, rice noodles cooked in a hot beef broth with some pickled asian veg, meatballs and wontons! Yum! Also some cold Hong Kong style milk tea on the side!

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This was a daily routine when we’re in Boracay for the week, everyday we would go to Sharetea for bubble tea or in this case, E was feeling adventurous so he ordered Rock Salt and Cream Cheese!

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My biggest regret is not eating at Ding Tai Fung more often, since it was pretty much right next to our hotel. If you don’t know what Ding Tai Fung is, it’s basically the only Asian restaurant that has earned its Michelin Star, all thanks to these beautifully crafted babies! Mini soup buns, absolutely amazing!

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Traditional fried rice with prawns!

Sorry about the quality of the photos, these were taken with my phone camera, it was awful having to lug our DSLR around in the heat!

After all this, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I don’t go crazy with the carb-loading when I’m on holiday but at the same time, I don’t restrict myself in what I can eat because I think it’s very important to try new things especially when you’re traveling to a foreign country. When it comes to drinking, yes I do drink alcohol and no I don’t get drunk on a daily basis when I’m on holiday because I don’t go on holiday to drink when we have perfectly good quality alcohol at reasonable prices here at home. I do enjoy a few cocktails by the poolside or on the beach though. I think of my holidays as a reward for all the times that I’ve been clean with my eating and my working out when I’m here in SA, you should too. 🙂

Hope this answered some questions!

With love…xxx