It’s about that time of year when school is starting and the weather is beginning to turn. Except here of course, where it’s still basically scorched earth and excessive sweating in public is a daily occurrence.

It’s also the time of year when we review our grand plans for the summer. For the second year running, we put together a summer bucket list. Just like last year, it was aggressive but promised to make for a full and interesting summer. And you know what? It was!

I’ll be the first to admit that overall, our summer plans this year were a spectacular failure. We gave it the ‘ole college try, but things didn’t go according to plan. Our summer certainly wasn’t boring, and we’ve been traveling like crazy. However, many of the items we hoped to check off the list involved being outside in Southern China on a random July Saturday. We quickly realized those were just not gonna happen.

And yes, that is Drew on a unicorn inflatable. That was not on the summer bucket list, but he managed to check it off anyway.

China Summer Bucket List


1. Visit Guangzhou —completed June 18
2. Visit Shanghai — completed June 24
3. Visit Hong Kong x 2 — we officially went to HK once for a fun Sunday, but also went to the airport and once to do an errand? Does this count? We say yes.
4. Visit Guilin — Once we learned that summer in Guilin is even hotter than Shenzhen? incomplete
5. Take the ferry from Shenzhen to Macau — completed August 12
6. Family reunions in the US — completed in July

In addition to these travels, we spent a weekend in Sanya, I went to Hangzhou for a work event, and we just came back from our second visit to Shanghai.

Shenzhen Transportation Guide

Things to do in Guangzhou: Canton Tower

Three days in Shanghai

Shenzhen Stuff

1. Window of the World — incomplete, way too hot
2. Splendid China Folk Village —
incomplete, way too hot 
3. Go to the beaches around Shenzhen — 
you’d think it would be a pleasant escape from the heat, but you’d be wrong. Way too hot. Incomplete.
4. Visit Shenzhen Book City — 
completed July 15
5. Visit a Chinese spa —
we hear they’re incredible and inexpensive, but incomplete. No excuses for this one.
6. Attend expat meet ups — 
completed 2x
7. Go hiking, despite the heat — 
completed hike in nearby park, July 1

Rather than ‘ix-nay’ the entire list, what we’ve decided to do is move many of these things to a cooler season. Is that an excuse? Yes. Yes it is.

The two theme parks (#1 and #2 on the list) are kinda hilarious looking, but we just can’t be bothered to spend the money only to sweat our way around a park all day. The one time we really thought about it, the thermometer hit 115 degrees with humidity. Risking heat exhaustion to see a 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower didn’t seem worth it. We resorted to having a cold, refreshing cocktail at a rooftop bar that overlooked Windows of the World. It was the smart play.

chinese work visa application

Living in Shenzhen

living in shenzhen

Living in Shenzhen

Living in Shenzhen


1. Go for dim sum in Hong Kong – incomplete, but we did go in Guangzhou, which invented dim sum. Though, if we are being honest, we didn’t really have proper dim sum, because thanks to a lack of translation on the menu, our order of five dim sum dishes turned out to be five entrees. We also managed to do a dim sum tasting at the Mandarin Oriental in Macau that was delicious. Guangzhou (sort of), Macau. Gosh, we were so close on this one!
2. Try “The Mob” at Oddies Foodies in HK – incomplete
3. Visit Top 10 Shenzhen restaurants (according to Trip Advisor rankings) — We know better than to trust Trip Advisor all the time. As a first step to learning about the Shenzhen food scene, it’s a good place to take a look, but frankly, we’ve found much better resources since then. I think we’d still like to go to Bus Grill, and we have our eye on a hot pot restaurant in our neighborhood that is perpetually packed. But honestly, this list stinks, with the exception of Tequila Coyote’s, where we go at least once a month for a break from Chinese cuisine, and they make a mean margarita.

  • Baia Burger Concept (complete June 22)
  • Baia Restaurant. Bar. Grill. – incomplete
  • Shark – incomplete
  • Azzurro – incomplete
  • Tequila Coyote’s – complete June 11
  • Bus Grill Turkish Steakhouse – incomplete
  • Grange Grill Westin Hotel – completed August 11
  • Lobby Lounge OR Feast in Sheraton Dameisha Resort – incomplete
  • Paletto Italian Restaurant – incomplete

4. Eat something adventurous — completed, though not on purpose. When my colleagues go out to lunch as a team, they order a whole slew of dishes, and let me try them first without informing what they are. They seem to get some sick pleasure out of it, as they snicker with each bite. Stir-fried bull frog, pig intestines, some weird duck feet thing wrapped in tofu. Yup, check on this one. Oh, and we ate fried water snake in Shanghai that was killed in front of us. That was a first.
5. Master our Hot Pot skills — incomplete, but we have two places in our neighborhood that are constantly packed, so we will be checking this one off shortly.

Mandarin Oriental Macau Review

Mandarin Oriental Macau Review

Three days in Shanghai

Shanghai night eats food tour

Shanghai night eats food tour

That’s a wrap until next year’s China summer bucket list. Will we do better next time? Probably not. But we’ll still have fun trying!