Beijing Day 6

I thought I could end the Beijing saga in this post but I was soo wrong! Looks like there will be another post after this..but when? I really donch know!!

Day 6

We made an appointment to meet Mom to 3 Angels at Temple of Heaven.Since she could only meet us after lunch, we decided to go to Jinshan again & then to Tiananmen Square.

Some dance classes/club at the Summer Palace Park

As expected, it was clear & sunny day! We thought it was good for our photos of the Forbidden City but it was wayyy tooooo bright! Shucks! Nevertheless we did manage to take more photos around Jinshan Park. Awesome place.

Next was Tiananmen Square. We took a bus there even though it was nearby. Bus rides cost RMB1 per pax woi..why walk huh? The crowd at Tiananmen was overwhelming…mostly local Chinese tourists. There were tourists squatting every where, even right in the middle of the square! Weird but true. It was a great place to just observe the people there…very interesting indeed.

We went to have Peking Duck at Quanjude, supposedly most famous place to have Peking Duck. Verdict? So-so only lerrrr..However, that restaurant is huge! They had a building of their own, I think there were 5 floors & the queue was so freaking long, they had a numbering system with this pretty lady calling your number using a mic! There were like 10 rows of chairs on the ground entrance hall for the patrons while they wait. We waited for about 20mins and managed to charged our camera battery while waiting! hahahha…

After lunch we took the underground train to meet up with Mom to 3 Angels at Temple of Heaven. Upon entering the park, it was really like entering heaven…it was like the most beautiful place ever…I somehow felt the serenity & peacefulness despite the crowd of tourists. Love the trees, and of course the building of the temples. Thoroughly enjoyed the park but we had to go off as it was getting dark.

Walked opposite to the shopping centre. It was something like the Silk Market but better. The toys store caught our attention first. Bought toys etc for the kids..SO CHEAP!!! It was a few stories and they had stationery on the top floor.

We then walked to the next building which sells exactly the same stuff in Silk Market but the shopkeepers were friendlier & more willling to heed to our bargaining! Bought the fames (famous) slippers despite Apah telling me they were copies. I kept insisting they were overruns or rejects..but Apah being the shoe specialist insisted they were copies (indeed they were as the sizes do not match the originals!)..blek..what the heck cos I bought matching ones with Kylie and they cost only a fraction of the originals…ok ok I know this is so not me…but they are after all slippers for crying out loud!

Bought more souvenirs & Apah bought his iPod gadgets (talking about originals…he mai bought copies..tsk tsk tsk..) Bought a Jap brand earphones as the iPod earphones were causing pain in my ears. Copy of course! How else can you get a Jap brand earphones for about RM10!!

Mom to 3 Angels left us early but we continued shopping till dark! Finally we decided to stop as we had to catch dinner as we planned to go to the Olympic Park. As we were walked out to catch the bus back to the hotel we saw this familiar looking coffee joint but when we looked carefully, it was not that  was a copy!!

Mun lei sei mei! Ala Bintang$ Kopi

We took a cab there not knowing if there was a subway going there. The cab driver did not really know where to drop us. Thank goodness for the bright blue Aquatic Centre, we just walked towards it. The cold wind was of course made us walk faster!

One of my better shots..

The Aquatic Centre was indeed beautiful, really loved the blue bubble like structures. It was very windy & it was difficult to get a good picture, obviously hands were shaky (freezing ma..) & we didnt bring the tripod (too many things to carry leow). Then we saw some tables & I had the brilliant idea of using it as a tripod replacement! So we managed to get shots of ourselves using the timer! We had to quickly take the photos cos the cold was getting a bit unbearable.  (The outcome for the sudden cold front will be in my next & final post on Beijing!)

We asked the guards if there was a subway station nearby & there  was! So we took the subway back to the hotel of course. RMB2 versus cabfare (forgot how much but it was at least RMB50 I it was quite a distance from the hotel) was the obvious reason!


Beijing Day 5

We woke up early as we were going to the Mutianyu Great Wall which is slightly further away from town.  There were ready taxis available in front of the hotel and after a short negotiation (RMB500 to & fro) we were on our way up. However, the weather was not kind to us. It was  gloomy & cloudy day. The taxi driver did tell us that Saturday was a better day (he was so right) but we already had plans to meet up with Mom to 3 Angels at Temple of Heaven.

On the way to the Great Wall we could vaguely see the wall as it was misty & cloudy. It was such a waste. From this I vowed that I will be back to Beijing again, maybe with the kids sometime in the future.

Upon reaching, the driver took us to the ticket counter & made sure we got the cable car tickets . He said he will just wait for us in the car till we come down.

Walking to the cable car station

The scenery from the cable car was not very good. It was just a short ride to the wall.  I was really expecting to have that feeling of having my breath taken away from all the photos & tv programs I have seen before regarding this wonder of the world but however, I was gravely disappointed due to the unkind weather. It was really misty & the view was of course not as breathtaking as I had expected.

I really like this photo & I took it of course! It’s located behind the wall..I wonder what it’s for..for the soldiers to relax???

Did you notice the rainbow?? It was raining!!

We had to run to those “rest areas” to escape the rain. Was super tired so I didn’t mind the rest time. The steps here were really steep & I struggled to walk along the wall. At one point of time I had to stop to catch up with my breath & I was like breathing so heavily that Apah thought I was going to collapse!! I am so unfit!!

The rain didnt seem to stop & we decided to leave after a while. It was a bummer alright. While walking down towards the carpark there were stalls along the way. Apah saw this communist hat & wanted to get it. I thought it was bulky & waste of money! But he liked it & the vendor of course detected how much he liked it & didnt really budge much on the price. A few stalls down the road offered a cheaper price but he already had the stupid hat in his hands! Blek..

The taxi ride back to the hotel was about an hour. We rested a bit and walked out to the nearby shopping centre to have dinner. Was too tired to go anywhere else. Was disapointed there were no good & reasonably priced foot reflexology service around the hotel we stayed so Apah had to give me a massage!!

Beijing Day 3 & 4

Yes still ongoing…I have to finish this!!

Day 3 was the exhibition day (the actual reason why I’m in Beijing) but I only spent about 4 hours there!!

Amah walking to the exhibition hall

Amah meeting up with supplier

It was not a big one compared to the European shows so I finished surveying the booths very fast. Besides, most of the Chinese local manufacturers are not able to converse in English and did not provide English brochures! Managed to talk to them in my broken Mandarin (see the reason why I’m so adamant about Kieran continuing his studies in the Chinese School??) and managed to get some information. However, I foresee difficulties in importing from them due to the language barrier. Nevertheless, I managed to accomplish the most important thing which was to talk to one of my European supplier & managed to iron certain things out.

When we came out of the exhibition grounds, we saw Carrefour! Quickly went over to check it out. It was just like the ones back home, and we actually bought some groceries! I really cannot escape buying groceries from all over the world! Bought the really huge red dates, which I’m not sure if I can use them to boil soup or it’s just for eating as a snack! Duhhh,,,it’s still in my kitchen cabinet…..hope I will think of something before it’s expired!!! I even bought special flour for making dumplings…probably use it during CNY…I HOPE! (ya rite,,,it’s still sitting in the cupboard yet to be opened)

After Carrefour we went back to the hotel to drop the stuff of course! Then went back to Qianmen to look around & then to Silk Market in the evening. Shopping in Beijing is a world of difference from Shanghai/Shenzhen. The shopkeepers were rude & doesn’t bend much with bargaining. They open skyrocket prices for stuff that is substandard! Puhleeezeee…But of course Amah is very good with bargaining till some of them give in. Managed to buy what I wanted but I couldn’t win over the shopkeeper who was selling Hello Kitty stuff and also the good quality cartoon two-piece pyjamas. The Hello Kitty prices were not too much lesser than the original goods’ pricing and the pyjamas I couldn’t bring down the price to RMB100 for 3 sets. The lowest was RMB45 per set which I thought was a very good price but Amah cannot lose face so I refused to buy the pyjamas! (regretting now…)

Had dinner at a lauya a(sub standard) restaurant nearby as we were already tired (from the bargaining of course!) and hungry. Food in Beijing is not as appealing as in Shanghai & Shenzhen and of course very expensive  (I’m comparing with Shanghai & Shenzhen as I’ve not been to any other part of China..)

Day 4

We went to Jinshan (a park with a hill) located opposite the back entrance to the Forbidden City. Entrance fee was RMB2 which was very cheap! The park is quite big with a few entrances/exits. There were many senior citizens relaxing & having their activities eg social dancing, line dancing, ribbon dancing etc etc It was a great place for photography. However, when we reached the peak, we were not able to capture any good photographs of the Forbidden City as it was really misty. We decided to come again another day since the entrance fee is so cheap & not too far away.

After Jinshan we flagged down a motor trishaw to bring us to Hutong (not too far away but to walk I reckon it was too far). Upon reaching, the trishaw tour guides were all ready to pounce on us! Offered price was RMB180 for two of us which we thought was reasonable and didnt bargain ( should have for the fun of it!) We stopped at a traditional Hutong house which we paid RMB20 per person to go in. I reckon it was a rip off as it was nothing special!

Otherwise, we found the ride on the trishaw relaxing and the scenery along the lake was beautiful. We saw some retired men swimming in the lake! It was not terribly cold that time but I reckon it was still too cold to be swimming there! After the swim they were standing around chatting in just their swimming trunks! So gaya! (macho).

The trishaw puller drove us part Deng Xiao Peng’s daughter’s house & also the former residence of Sung xx (wife of Dr Sun Yat Sen). We didnt pay to go in and just took photos in the entrance.

After Hutong, the trishaw puller recommended us to visit the Palace of Prince Gong which was the former residence to the guy who used to be Emperor’s favourite minister. Forgot his name tim..anyway he was very corrupted and abused his power & position for his own gain of course! The new emperor managed to find out about him & managed to confiscate the treasures & money from him & I think he was killed. Then the Prince Gong (Emperor’s cousin) took over this residence. It was a very huge palace fit for a King! It even has a private theatre which they kept it till today for us to watch a short live show of acrobats with tea & snacks served. That place was so rich with history and I truly enjoyed the visit. Can’t elaborate more as I have to finish this journal ASAP!

The lake was in the shape of a bat!!

That’s the special “Fook” (prosperity) which was written by Emperor Xian Long and was given as a gift to that bad guy! It is said to have various meanings of blessings which can be derived from the special way the Emperor wrote that particular word!

After this, we decided to take a stroll and find our way back to the subway station but I think we were walking in the wrong direction. However, it was interesting nevertheless walking through the suburban streets and witnessed the livelihood of the residents. My camera battery went flat not long after I exited the Prince Gong Mansion! Was so frustrated and vowed to myself to get the spare battery when I get home!

We were super tired that day and I decided to stay put in the hotel to rest. So Apah had to go out to buy dinner. I decided to make myself a cup noodle while waiting as I was toooo hungry! The cup or rather “bowl” noodle was huge unlike the cup noodles we have back home. Thank goodness I ate the noodle as the dinner Apah bought was not too appealing.

Beijing Day 2 -cont’d…Old Summer Palace

I’m wondering how long more can I finish my account with Beijing at the rate I’m going…but there’s just so much to write and so many photos to resize & upload! I must finish writing  before I forget! This is important journal for me as I may want to visit again & make sure I don’t miss out on certain areas and make the same mistakes again..

After the New Summer Palace, we hopped on the bus to the Old Summer Palace. It’s also known as the “Ruins of Yuanmingyuan”. This place is huge and we managed to visit parts of the whole garden which was divided into 4 main gardens!

We entered through the gate where the bus we took from the New Summer Palace stopped. Can’t remember which gate!! Walked a bit and stopped to sitt on a bench and ate our bread. Really enjoyed the cool weather and the view. Since it was winter, the lotus plants have died, the scenery would have been better if the lotus plants were still alive…

After walking for a while we noticed there were rides available and quickly enquired about it. We were getting really tired so RMB10 per ride to the Ruins of Yuanmingyuan was a lifesaver!

Was trying to picture the actual buildings from looking at the ruins and I am sure the architecture was amazing and it was really a pity that the buildings were destroyed by the bloody quai loes!

Again, we ended up in another exit and we asked again how do we get back to the subway. Had to take a bus. On the way to the bus stop we saw a funeral service and it was practically on the side of the road! They actually had a makeshift kitchen to cook for the guests! Notice the drain they dug to allow the water flow! Amazing!

Beijing Day 2-Summer Palace New & Old

We had a good breakfast, really maxed out on the pork bacons…sooooo yummy!! The breakfast spread was pretty good despite it being a tourist class hotel. We ate to our hearts content, or rather it was just me eating away…

We bought some buns from a bakery next to the hotel. I noticed the pricing was not cheap at all, about like Bread Story prices but the quality is like the neighbourhood bakery type!

Off we went to New Summer Palace. We took the subway there but we did not notice any signboards or directions that leads to the Summer Palace. In fact, there was an entrance/exit to the Summer Palace which was just a stone throw’s away from the subway station, which we realised only when we came out from the Palace!! Since we didnt know about that entrance, we were “conned” to take a cab to the main entrance (East Palace Gate) which cost us RMB10 (minimum charge on the meter). No wonder the cab driver pulled a long & black face as the distance was really a short drive! But in actual fact he could have just directed us to the back entrance!

Again there were a few prices on the tickets, since we were not sure which areas we could cover, we bought the basic entrance tickets which was RMB30 each.

Not far from the entrance was the main hall, something like the ones at the Forbidden City where the emperor/Empress Dowager meet with officials for administration matters. Not too far away is the lake. The scenery was simply breathtaking but however, the weather was too kind to us, it was misty and the photos didn’t turn out too good. Ok, probably due to skill also…

Just like the Forbidden City, this place was also swarmed with tourists, mainly local tourists…I would occasionally hang around some tour groups just to eavesdrop on what the tour guide is saying…

We walked along the halls and then the long corridor…wanted to get a descent pix but it was impossible with the throngs of tourists walking up & down…

We climbed up to the temple and it was really tiring. I really cannot imagine doing this during summer!! Thank goodness it was cooling..We had to pay an additional amount to enter the temple, we decided to go in as it was the peak and the view was great.

Up & up & up….*pant…. pant*

Glimpse of the temple halfway up…*pant…pant…thinking of the servants carrying up the Emperor/Empress up…

bumped into it along the way and wanted to take a pix of him but he was running away…*tourist…Roll eyes*

We relaxed and took pictures of course. We really took our time and it was really relaxing. I don’t think I like going on a tour, rushing here and there.

We descended from the temple to the other entrance which was close to the subway (where we arrived). Before exiting, there was a place which the Kangxi or the Qianlong Emperor built which resembled the markets along the river at Suzhou. The market was meant to entertain the people and imperial family while they are confined live in the palace.

Imitation Suzhou market at the Summer Palace

We asked the staff at the exit how to get to the old Summer Palace which was the Yuanmingyuan Gardens. We were told to take a bus. The bus conductor was friendly and advised us where to stop and it was also right in front of the entrance! Next post on Yuanmingyuan…

Beijing Day 1-Forbidden City

The main entrance to the Forbidden City from Tiannamen Square

The entrance itself already took my breath away but the only drawback was the “millions” of tourists getting in and out of that place! Seriously my photos do not do justice to the majestic architecture and beauty of this wondrous and amazing palace! However, I was like kinda put off with that giant poster of Mr Chairman M la. I know with all due respect this guy, he was somebody but the poster should be placed where he was laid to rest which was next door to FC la..

Entrance Tickets cost RMB 60 and that does not include entrance into  various parts of the FC but by just walking around the palace our legs were about to give way, ok maybe only my legs…but we did pay to enter one part where they kept the antiques and treasures..We also paid to get the virtual guide which I thought was pretty cool as the narrator will automatically explain about the location wherever you go to!! However, they charged RMB 40 for English and other languages whereas they charged only RMB 10 for Mandarin!!! NO FAIR!!!

I can imagine those enuchs & maids walking along this place….so lonely & eerie feeling….The walls are so high up and I doubt if any one was able to enter or escape to or from this place! From the history, all maids/eunuchs/concubines who enter the palace will never get to leave the palace….how sad…

One of the rooms used by the Empress/Concubine..forgot ledi…see the wood carvings…so beautiful hor…

There were quite a number of rooms that were opened for viewing only through glass windows. We could peep in and saw so many beautiful treasures and furniture and understand roughly how the imperial family used to live (also from the many Hong Kong TVB drarma series I have watched so far) . We knew for a fact that majority of the treasures in the palace were looted off but there were still a lot left back in the palace! Can you imagine how much they had!

One of the many many halls that the King uses to meet up with officials etc..

There’s just too much to see despite many areas being closed to public. We simply couldn’t finish walking around the palace grounds.  I want to visit this place again but I must read up more on the history in order to fully appreciate the visit.

The toilets were commendable too, with toilet paper and hand dryer that works and there was a lady there constantly mopping and cleaning up. So I was very pleased and there were sitting toilets too!! For a start of my tour, this was really good!

Beijing Day 1

The drama began even before the flight. I bought a new sweater and had it washed last minute. At the same time I had to wash a load for a visiting pastor in my church. So I gave instructions to the maid what to do. However, Apah was the transporter. The maid hung the sweater in a hanger and the pastor’s clothes in a plastic bag. But Apah has to put in my sweater inside the plastic bag thinking the maid must have made a mistake by separating the sweater! Why can’t he call me to verify?? At the end I didn’t bring this sweater along and thank God the pastor was not leaving the same day and we actually managed to talk to him and asked him to leave the sweater with the church staff! I was so mad with Apah I actually asked him to get another room in Beijing!

It was a midnight flight out and coincidentally, Mom to 3 Angels was on the same flight with me to & fro! It was a 6.5 hours flight and when we landed we were immediately greeted with a pleasant looking guy offering his taxi service. Opening price was RMB450 and we started bargaining he went down a mere RMB50!! When we asked him to drop Mom to 3 Angels & her colleague first and then to our hotel he only agreed if the fare was back to RMB450! We didn’t realise he actually slaughtered us till we left our hotel for the Beijing Airport. The fare from our hotel to the airport was only RMB90! I was so happy I actually gave the cabbie RMB100 asked him to keep the change! So remember, if you do take a cab from Beijing airport to a hotel in the city it should not cost more than RMB150!!!!!!!!!!

Upon arrival we were in for another surprise, as the hotel said the fare we booked doesn’t include tax and we had to pay 15% more! Apah better give the agent a good shelling! However, we managed to bargain for an additional breakfast as the original offer was only for 1 free breakfast and the next good thing was they had the room ready for us by 9+am. This was the Novotel Chungwenmen and is very strategically located right in front of the Chongwenmen Subway station.

We quickly freshened up and departed for Qianmen (the next subway station on the same line as Chongwenmen), our first tourist stop. Wanted to look for a tailor but couldn’t find any and ended up shopping for nonsense.

In front of the first gate towards the entrance of the Forbidden City, hence it's called Qianmen (Front door)

Qianmen shopping street (very expensive shopping, so I didn’t buy anything there)

Look at the massive number of tourists! Mostly local China Chinese people!

We ate at a descent looking restaurant (located next to the Qianmen Shopping St) and that was our first try on the Peking Duck. They actually roast the duck in full view for the diners. Taste wise…not fantastic but bearable.

Next stop was Forbidden City which deserves a post of it on its own!