Shirley’s Food Adventures 2.0




Stepping into Ancient China

A while ago I decided to visit the “Lingering Garden” [留园] and “Tiger Hill” [虎丘]. Both are prominent tourist sites in Suzhou; the Lingering Garden is also world heritage site. This was my first time travelling alone and it was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Lingering Garden留园

The Lingering Garden is located a mere 4 bus stops away from my grandparent’s house so I caught to bus there, and walked home after.


Walking inside was like walking straight into a maze. Outside each room was a different garden, and the gardens were connected to each other by some sort of walkway. Unfortunately I didn’t have a map, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to read the Chinese characters so I basically walked around the entire 23,310m2 garden without a clue where I was headed next.

I can’t begin to describe how stunning the gardens were; I could stay there forever and soak up the beauty of the place. The atmosphere was peaceful and serene and it’s the perfect environment to sit, read and contemplate life. It’s also the perfect go-to-place for anyone who needs to de-stress, or spend quality time alone.

I loved walking on the bridge because it made me feel as if I was transported back in time to a dynasty depicted in any of my favourite period dramas. For those who’ve never seen a period drama, there are so many scenes where the Emperor, Empress, or any of the Emperor’s concubines and his/her entire entourage takes a relaxing stroll through the beautiful gardens to admire the newly blossomed flowers or appreciate the picturesque scenery.

Tiger Hill虎丘

Tiger Hill is famous for its “Cloud Rock Pagoda”, a vast seven-storey tower that leans north. It was erected in the Northern Song Dynasty and has been leaning for over a millennium. The pagoda has a height of 47.68 meters and tilts 2.34 meters northeast.

This is the description provided on a nearby rock:

“Built in the year 959A.D as a Buddhist pagoda, it is a seven-storey brick building designed in wood structure, and also the earliest octagon-shaped pagoda now known to be extant.

In 1961, this landmark in the Suzhou section of the Grand Canal was enlisted as a major cultural heritage protected at the national level.”


For all the superstitious people out there, this story is for you. Apparently, pregnant women and their partners came here to “discover” the gender of their future child. If you something (a smaller rock? I can’t remember the specific object) and it lands safely on the rock, you’ll be blessed with a son; if the object bounces off and lands on the ground you’ll give birth to a daughter.


This pavilion was originally called “ Chamber of Emperor’s Handwriting” in the Song Dynasty and “Miao Zhuang Yan’s Pavilion” in the Yuan Dynasty. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire and in the 28th year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign of Qing Dynasty (1689 AD), it was rebuilt. When Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong (both legendary Emperors) stayed on the Tiger Hill, they left their handwritings.

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Shirley’s Food Adventures 1.0

For those who don’t know, China is famous for its cheap and delectable food! A pearl milk tea in Australia costs me around $5.50 – $6.50, which is equivalent to around RMB30. A large authentic pearl milk tea in China costs exactly RMB10. That’s a third of the Australian price!!

What I look forward to every year is the amount of delicious food I will consume in China at the end of the year without feeling having to mentally calculate my new bank balance. In this post I will feature pictures of all the tasty snacks, food and dessert I devoured.

Beef & Kimchi Udon **** [Devoured this after a 10 hour flight at Shanghai Pudong Airport – I never eat airplane food because they taste utterly disgusting. Best post-flight food ever]


Vegetarian Hot Pot ***** [My aunt is a devout vegetarian, and she first introduced this vegetarian hot pot buffet last year. Ever since my amazing experience at this buffet last year, I’ve been craving it all year! I was 100% content after Monday’s lunch.:)


Stir-Fry vegetables with Fish *** [My dad and I had no idea what to eat for dinner so we basically just walked into the first restaurant we saw after I complained that my feet hurt LOL]


 “Shredded radish pancake丝饼” ***** [This was one of my favourite snacks when I was a child. I remember they used to sell it downstairs and my grandparents would buy me several every day to munch on. Unfortunately it seems over the past 18 years or so, its popularity has diminished and now we have to walk pretty far to find a stall that sells it. 🙂


My grandma is the world’s best cook. It’s been a while since I had such a fulfilling dinner with literally all my favourite dishes laid out on the table for me to enjoy. Why dine out when I can happily eat the best home-made meal? 😀


“Stinky tofu |臭豆腐” ***** [I’m sure most of you have heard of China’s infamous “stinky tofu”, named obviously after the supposedly repulsive odour of the tofu. HOWEVER, guys trust me, this is NOT the case. The tofu admittedly has a distinct smell, but it’s NOT foul, and the taste is amazing. This is definitely one of China’s delights & I urge you to try it if you ever visit China. Every year in China, whenever my grandparents ask me what I want to eat, my answer is always “I want to eat stinky tofu”.]


“White Rabbit Creamy Candy|大白兔奶糖” ***** [My favourite lolly ever! The last time I remember eating one was when I was like….10 or something. Will definitely be brining these to Canada!!! 🙂


Preserved Eggs with Tofu|皮蛋豆腐” **** [I love tofu, so any dish with tofu is definitely my cup of tea]


 “Lamb Kebab|羊肉串” ***** [Spicy roasted mutton cubes on a skewer. The manager recommended this and it was fantastic. If you ever visit China, try it!!]



I’ll miss you Straya!

Two days ago(13/12/2015), I boarded my 12pm flight to Shanghai. It was quite difficult to bid farewell to my favourite country for the next few months as this will be my first time leaving Australia for such a long time. It was even more difficult to say goodbye to my friends, many whom I’ve known since I was a young dorky preteen. I was glad my friends didn’t see me off because I definitely would’ve cried…and me crying is certainly not a pretty sight.

Here are just a few photos taken recently to remind me how blessed I am to have such amazing, caring and selfless friends in my life and even when I’m living on the other side of the world, I definitely won’t forget you guys ❤ Remember, WE HAVE TO SKYPE/MESSAGE AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK.


So, Australia…… for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with you. On one hand, you’re my rock and my home; I can’t imagine living permanently anywhere else in the world. You’ve seen me at my best and at my worst, and not once have you judged or deported me out of the country. No matter where I am in the world, I’ll always be an Aussie girl at heart.

On the other hand, I’m very glad to be leaving you for the entire summer and spring. Why? Well…. Australia, why on earth are you home to a billion different species of reptiles, insects, spiders, bacteria and god knows what other ridiculous creatures you secretly house within those dense bushes and faraway mountains of yours? Your snakes and lizards are absolutely fucking terrifying. I saw a fucking snake at a train station. What. The. Fuck. It wasn’t even a station situated in the middle of the bushes; it was a highly populated area where hundreds/thousands of students catch the train every single day. AND THERE WAS A FUCKING SNAKE. C’MON AUSTRALIA. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Thank god I’ve never witnessed a snake near my house (I live on top of a hill and behind my house lies the bushes) but I’ve heard dreadful stories of my mates discovering snakes in their houses and in their backyards. Moving on, what I absolutely detest about Australia is the fact that I can’t even leave the house without encountering multiple lizards. Guys…..I have a confession. I’m scared of lizards. Scared shitless. It’s an irrational fear since I know they won’t hurt me but I’m still scared. Yet I still have to see them every single day in Summer. The other day, I went hiking/bush walking with my mates from Spit Bridge to Manly and far out, the amount of times I saw lizards of all different shapes and sizes was ridiculous. My heart was pounding, I was dreading every step I look and I literally thought I was going to die of fright. So yes, on some level, I am glad to be leaving my home.

Moving on. I will be spending just under 20 days in China – Suzhou and Nanjing. I won’t be doing anything interesting during my stay in China unfortunately, but at least I’ll have more than enough time to research all the places I should visit in Canada! (This includes clubs/bars etc heheheheheh ) If any Canadians (in particular those residing in Vancouver!) stumble across my blog, please let me know of any good clubs/bars, cafes and restaurants! I can’t wait to try the food there!