Alvinology goes to Shantou - Day 1 of 5 - Alvinology

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.

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.

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. 🙂

Stay tuned for the next update on day 2.

Technorati Tags: airplane rom, airplane wedding, ellie and carl, ellie and carl up, getting married on a plane, jetstar first shantou flight, jetstar inaugural direct flight from Singapore to Shantou, jetstar plane marriage, jetstar plane solemnisation, jetstar singapore to shantou, meritus shantou, plane marriage, plane rom, plane solemnisation, plane wedding, shantou, shantou travel, singapore first plane marriage, singapore plane solemnisation, singapore teochew association, singapore unconventional wedding, teochew poit ip huay kuan, up movie, wotif.com, 新加坡潮州八邑会馆 , shantou travel, shantou flight, singapore to shantou, teochew travel, Shantou’s Waisha International Airport, Waisha International Airport, 汕头外砂机场, guandong travel, chaoshan travel, 潮汕, 新梅园大酒楼, new plum garden, shantou new plum garden, new plum garden restaurant, 象拔蚌, elephant clams, 梁山伯与祝英台, teochew the butterfly lovers, shantou traditional opera school, teochew opera, teochew food, shantou food, shantou banquet, teochew banquet

7 comments
  1. 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

  2. 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.

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