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Alvinology goes to Shantou – Day 1 of 5

Alvinology goes to Shantou – Day 1 of 5

Right after our plane solemnisation, Rachel and I headed for Shantou (汕头), China, together with my parents and Rachel’s mom and sister.

We traveled together with a contingent from the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan (新加坡潮州八邑会馆), a few Jetstar and Meritus staff and some journalists, including my boss Chim Kang, my colleague Han Joo and our friend, Nicholas from Straits Times.

It was the maiden flight for Jetstar from Singapore to Shantou, hence there was quite a bit of media and government attention from both Singapore and Shantou. Jetstar will become the first foreign carrier to fly into Shantou’s Waisha International Airport (汕头外砂机场) (a former military airport) and will be the only carrier to fly direct.

Waisha International Airport

Waisha International Airport

The plane we got married on :)

The plane we got married on 🙂

Security check

Security check

In the past, Singaporeans going to Shantou will have to take a flight to Xiamen or other parts of China and endure another grueling long long bus ride to get there, clocking around 10 hours in travel time. The direct flight to Shantou cuts down traveling time considerably – the plane took around 4 hours to fly from Singapore to Shantou. It took another 20 minutes to get from the airport to the city central.

Shantou, an eastern city in Guangdong province (广东省), is the gateway to Chaozhou, Jieyang and Shanwei. The Chaozhou and Shantou region is called Chaoshan (潮汕) and the main dialect spoken in these ares is Teochew. A large part of the Singapore Chinese population are Teochew, my mother being one of them.

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For this trip, we followed the itinerary of the Teochew Association folks. Usually, we prefer to go free and easy for our travel, but Rachel and I considered we were traveling with four of our family members this time. Hence a planned itinerary and fixed bus rides will be less hassle for us to take care of everyone.

When we touched down at the airport, we were warmly welcomed by the airport staff with nice Tiger-motif cups for all the passengers.

Our bus

Our bus

On board our bus with our tour guide

On board our bus with our tour guide

After clearing the customs and collecting our luggage, we boarded the bus to New Plum Garden Restaurant (新梅园大酒楼) for lunch. New Plum Garden is a famous restaurant chain in China, something like Crystal Jade in Singapore.

Outside New Plum Garden

Outside New Plum Garden

Nice flowers, nice cool temperature

Nice flowers, nice cool temperature

I wonder how anyone can use this phone booth

I wonder how anyone can use this phone booth

Restaurant entrance

Restaurant entrance

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

Check out all the food available

Check out all the food available

More varieties

More varieties

Elephant clams (象拔蚌)

Elephant clams (象拔蚌)

Assortment of fish

Assortment of fish

Live, moving abalone on display

Live, moving abalone on display

Getting seated

Getting seated

Here’s the heavy lunch we had:

Braised pork trotters - yummy!

Braised pork trotters – yummy!

Cold platter

Cold platter

Bamboo soup

Bamboo soup

Steamed fish

Steamed fish

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Prawns

Prawns

Corns, basil nuts and other stuff

Corns, basil nuts and other stuff

Oyster omelette

Oyster omelette

Crabs

Crabs, baked with glutinous rice

Extremely delightful fried tofu - crispy on the outside, soft on the inside

Extremely delightful fried tofu – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside

Chiat-ying from Jetstar and Han Joo

Chiat-ying from Jetstar and Han Joo

Jade green veggies

Jade green veggies

Giant chunks of yam, sweet potato and tapioca in case we are still not full

Giant chunks of yam, sweet potato and tapioca in case we are still not full

After lunch karaoke

After lunch karaoke

After lunch, we headed to our hotel, Meritus Shantou, to check-in. The staff were all lined up at the hotel entrance for a warm welcome for our contingent. There were lion dances and the VIPs were presented with large bouquet of flowers. There was also light tea reception for the VIPs to mingle with the Meritus Shantou staff.

Lion dance welcome

Lion dance welcome

Meritus Shantou

Meritus Shantou

Dragon-shaped balloon to welcome us

Dragon-shaped balloon to welcome us

Can you see the custom-made orange Merlion?

Can you see the custom-made orange Merlion?

Hotel reception

Hotel reception

It was free and easy time from there till dinner. Rachel and I changed into our casual gears and headed out shopping in the nearby area, together with Han Joo, Rachel’s mom and sister. I haven’t been to China for a good five years or so and was quite surprised to see how the costs of things have risen since. Although still cheaper than in Singapore, certain commodities like petrol are at the small level or perhaps cost even more than in Singapore.

In our casual wear, ready for shopping

In our casual wear, ready for shopping

The central shopping district where our hotel is located

The central shopping district where our hotel is located

Out shopping with the ladies

Out shopping with the ladies

Giant billboard promoting a newly opened amusement park

Giant billboard promoting a newly opened amusement park

Only in Shantou - KFC Nian Gao Egg Tarts!

Only in Shantou – KFC Nian Gao Egg Tarts!

Can you see the layer of nian gao?

Can you see the layer of nian gao?

For dinner, we headed to one of the many lavish banquets hosted by the local government which we will grow tired of over the next few days. The spread is really good – don’t get me wrong. However, too much of anything always kills the joy.

Waiting for dinner

Waiting for dinner

With the two MPs in our contingent, Ms Ellen Lee and Mdm Cynthia Phua

With the two MPs in our contingent, Ms Ellen Lee and Mdm Cynthia Phua

Going through the dinner menu

Going through the dinner menu

A toast to the host

A toast to the host

Local news report on our contingent

Local news report on our contingent

Check out the dinner menu:

Our dinner menu

Our dinner menu

Chicken and pork

Chicken and pork

Abalone cooked with barley

Abalone cooked with barley

This should be either duck or chicken, can't remember

This should be either duck or chicken, can’t remember

One fish for everyone

One fish for everyone

Scallop

Scallop

Black chicken soup

Black chicken soup

Fried and lightly salted mushroom

Fried and lightly salted mushroom

Mixed nuts and other goodies

Mixed nuts and other goodies

Some teochew kuey

Some teochew kuey

Shantou little oranges

Shantou little oranges

Desert

Desert

After dinner, we went for a special performance put up by students of the over 50-years-old, Shantou Traditional Opera School. It was an eye-opener for us and perhaps a culture shock for our younger friends, Han Joo and Eunice who fell asleep in the middle of the performances.

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Rachel particularly enjoyed the Teochew opera segment, featuring a scene from the popular classic, The Butterfly Lovers (梁山伯与祝英台), often referred to as Chinese Romeo and Juliet.

The police stopped traffic just for us to alight from our buses, causing a jam

The police stopped traffic just for us to alight from our buses, causing a jam

Signboard at the theatre entrance hall

Signboard at the theatre entrance hall

Opening song and dance item

Opening song and dance item

Loud and formidable

Loud and formidable

Night's emcee who can also sing very well

Night’s emcee who can also sing very well

Indian dance

Indian dance

Acrobatic performance

Acrobatic performance

Spinning a hanky

Spinning a hanky

Emcee belting a number

Emcee belting a number

Performance on a sad Chinese ghost story

Performance on a sad ghost who got burned to death by her lover

Rachel with her mom and sis, enjoying the performances

Rachel with her mom and sis, enjoying the performances

Nicholas, Rachel and me

Nicholas, Rachel and me

The Butterfly Lovers

The Butterfly Lovers

Another picture

Another picture

Star-crossed lovers

Star-crossed lovers

Finale item

Finale item

Bubbles!

Bubbles!

The other lead singer

The other lead singer

Video recording of the finale performance:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/v/L3uDfnJPQEw&hl=en_US&fs=1&”]

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

Rachel and I with my boss, Chim Kang and his new Shantou hairstyle

Rachel and I with my boss, Chim Kang and his new Shantou hairstyle

The shutters were drawn right after the performance - it was actually the school holidays and special arrangement was made just for us

The shutters were drawn right after the performance – it was actually the school holidays and special arrangement was made just for us

City nightscape

City nightscape

God of Fortune and two Tiger lanterns, spotted outside our hotel

God of Fortune and two Tiger lanterns, spotted outside our hotel

We went back to the hotel to rest for the night after the performance, concluding our first day in Shantou. 🙂

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Stay tuned for the next update on day 2.

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About The Author

alvinology

Alvin is a marketer by day and blogger by night. He is a 100% geek who spends too much time surfing the web.

3 Comments

  1. gillian

    hi alvin,

    i was looking for travel info on shantou & came upon your website. my family’s teochew & we’ve been wanting to travel to shantou for the longest time, even though we’ve lost touch with our relatives there. i was wondering if you could share your travel itinerary & the tour agency/guide that you guys hired with me? My family (& extended family) and myself would be very grateful to you!! 🙂

    pls email me if possible! thanks much!

    gillian

    Reply
  2. Phoebe

    Hi Alvin, I too chance upon your website and was very delighted to see the many places and eateries of Shantou you have shared.

    We just booked our tickets to Shantou via Jetstar too and will be travelling there in early June. Jieyang is the ancestor hometown of my father-in-law and we intend to take my inlaws for a visit and also tour around the city. I am wondering if you can share with me your itinerary, travel guide/hotel information? Any guidance or advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

    Reply

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  1. Home and Away in Shantou « A L V I N O L O G Y - [...] 26 02 2010 I am still in the midst of processing the rest of the photos…
  2. Home and Away in Shantou - [...] am still in the midst of processing the rest of the photos I took during my 5D4N Shantou trip.…
  3. Alvinology goes to Shantou – Day 2 of 5 « A L V I N O L O G Y - [...] Day 1 – Arrival, Teochew Opera [...]

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