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First Day In Beijing

Hey Honey:

I can’t believe it had been a week already since I landed again in Beijing. Time sure flies, especially when it been so busy everyday.

The flight on Air China was rather uncomfortable. I had the window seat but there is nothing to see out the window. The entire flight is in darkness! The flight left Vancouver on schedule at 3:00 AM and arrived a little earlier than 5:45 AM in Beijing. Hehehe … sound like a 3 hour flight huh?

That flight was 11 hours long. I did not sleep much because the seat were so uncomfortable. The entertainment system was so archaic that I don’t even want to watch any movies at all. When you come over to visit me, remember NOT to fly Air China!

The food was just so-so. You get a choice of either Chinese or western. I went with Chinese. Quite edible but I did not even finish half of it. Anyway, it was just too much food for a 11 hour flight.

The Beijing Capital International Airport was rather quiet when I landed. Which was a good thing because I was kind of worried because I had so much luggage and had to jostle with the people who don’t respect lines. Good thing there was NO lines at all.

When you get to Beijing, here is what you do. Follow everyone to the immigration counter and line up behind the line that says “Foreigners”. The immigration officers here are much friendlier, so no worries there. They don’t talk much, nor did they ask me any questions. You then get on a train which brings you to another terminal where you pick up your luggage (if you have any checked in). And then you go out to through the green lane of customs. Easy. I will wait for you outside the customs.

This is the service apartment I am staying for the next few months. You will … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Going To China, Finally

I had been flying here and there for the last little while … everywhere but China. LOL! It’s too complicated to explain. There were a number of things that took a little lot longer than everyone anticipated.

But I am finally in the YVR airport. With all my bags packed and all.

One of the things that made things took so long was that I had problems with … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Little Sheep Hot Pot in Beijing

Hi Honey:

It was what I call a productive day. I took a couple of hours nap at the hotel after a full day of roaming around Beijing. The day started very early at about 7AM and by the time I got back at 4PM, I had covered the Beihai Park, the Lama Temple, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower.

Surprisingly I did not sleep long. I think I was beginning to get used to long days on the feet. For dinner that day, I took a 10 minutes walk from the hotel to the Little Sheep Hot Pot.

It is the familiar logo, isn’t it? We have a Little Sheep Hot Pot in Richmond and I had even blogged about it here. One thing I find puzzling is that while in China, this chain hot pot restaurant is called Little Sheep while the restaurant in Richmond is called Mongolian Hot Pot. The Chinese name and the logo remain the same too.

This green round logo is so familiar too. There were quite a number of Little Sheep restaurants in Beijing. They all look high end and expensive looking, unlike the one we have in Richmond which was just so-so.

Yeah, I was kind of worried not knowing what to expect. The restaurant was quite posh. It is certainly one of the more fancier hot pot restaurants I had been to. Everything is sparkling clean. It looked like an expensive setting.

The menu was exciting. It was unlike the small 1-2 pager menu we have in Vancouver. It is like … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Bell Tower and Drum Tower of Beijing

Hi Honey:

I got scammed. I remember reading about it online but it just did not click until it was too late … or kind of too late.

After the Lama Temple, I was thinking about where to go have something to eat. After walking so much around the Beihai Park and Lama Temple, I also needed somewhere to have a proper seat down too with a cool drink or something.

It was then I remember a lot of people I spoke to recommend that I go to Houhai (the “Rear Sea”) because they have a lot of eateries. My friends at work too told me how great it is and how I must definitely go. Then the Beijing folks I work with the week earlier also recommend the same place. And finally, I remember a rickshaw puller who approached me a few days ago also offered to take me there.

So without hesitation, I hailed a cab for a short ride there.

When I told the cab driver to drop me off at “Houhai” and I want to “chi dongxi” (eat something), he dropped me off on … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Yonghe Temple: The Largest Tibetan Monasteries in the World

Hey Honey:

From the Beihai Park, I took a cab to the Lama Temple. Since it was mentioned as a must-see place in the guidebook where they devoted two pages to this place, I thought I go check it out. The guidebook did not mention about the size of the temple and so I thought it would be a small compound. I did not realize it was actually the size of a small palace.

Moreover, I was curious about this place because of the word Tibetan in the name. I do not know much about the Tibetan history in the context of China’s history. I know a lot of people are against Tibet being part of China but I do also know that for hundreds of years, Tibet had long association with China in one way or another.

The taxi driver dropped me off on the main street. There were a lot of shops selling Buddhist prayer paraphernalia, like 90% of the shops here sells Buddhism related things. A lot of them sells joss sticks. There were a number of Buddhist monks around in their yellow robes who garnered quite a lot of respect from the people there. Many of the monks do look like they are Tibetans with their darker complexion and weather worn faces.

Entrance was 25 RMB ($4 Canadian) and the audio guide was … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Beihai Park: The 1000 Year Old Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City

Hey honey:

This is the third day of my real vacation in Beijing. It is a Monday. I was mindful of this as this is a working day. I figure that today would be the day where the tourists spots are going to be a lot more quieter. This is unlike the previous two weekend days. So I was looking forward to a more relaxed and slow day.

So I got out of the hotel a little earlier today. It was just past 7:00 AM. I wanted to take the time to have breakfast and to read about the sightseeing for the day. Yeah, I was winging it for this trip. If you recall, I had just less than two days notice to come to Beijing and how quickly you got the guide books for me from the library. For this day, my aim was to visit the Beihai park.

People do seems to start work very early here. Even at this early an hour, a lot of people were already out and about streaming in and out of the subway station. I walked a little past the subway station because I had seen a few small local restaurants there. True enough, they were opened and they were deep frying things outside the restaurant. Lots of people were there getting something for work.

Since I did not know how to order, I had to wait for an opening when they were quieter. Everyone seems to be in the rush and I was kind of afraid to get in their way.

They have a big bucket of tofufa or at least that is what I think it is. Hehehe, I tried to hide the fact I know little Mandarin and just said “Geh woh yi wan, xie xie” which simply means “give me a bowl, thank you”. And then she asked me something which I could not understand and so I just said “how lah” which means “OK”. I guessed then she was asking me if … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Meals In The Hutongs

Hey honey:

I spent a long time at the National Art Museum of China. It is not that I was getting much out of it as the exhibits are all in Chinese but that I was still dead tired from all the walking in the Forbidden City the day before. I largely sat there and catch up with some reading. Hehehe … also took a short nap too out in the foyer. I would have stayed longer if not that they were shooing people out to setup for some ceremony for a big shot. They rolled out the red carpets and all.

One visitor got very angry when told that they are closing early. She was really fierce and shouted to the poor young man who tried to explain unsuccessfully why they had to close early. Me, being the usual busy body, moved closer to see the action. I wanted to take pictures because she was so animated but on second thought I better not. She could turn her attention on me!

Since there were a few hutongs around the corner from the art museum, I decided to just go check it out and see for myself what the deal is with hutongs and all. I read about that so often. Basically they are where the old traditional courtyard homes are located.

Although there are numerous all around Beijing, they are being torn down one by one in the name of progress and development.

Hey on the way there, I came across these little parks where they have exercise machines. I see them in quite a number of places and they are almost always used.  Some of the users were elderly people. I was impressed that they are so fit and agile despite their age.

In and around the hutongs, especially at the entrances, there are small neighborhood eateries and shop. Since it was time for lunch, I thought I brave it and eat in one of those eateries. I know, to many people the cleanliness of places like these are suspicious. But then, these sort of places and food is not something new to me. So I won’t even consider this a risk to tell the truth.

Sometimes the best places to eat is just places like these — where … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The National Art Museum of China

Hi honey:

I must be getting too old. After that long day at the Forbidden City, I thought I would be OK after a good night rest.

I woke up really late at 9AM and yet I was still dead tired. I decided to take it easy for the day. I decided to stick to indoors places. You know, places where there is air conditioning. I decided to go to the National Art Museum of China. I walked past it the previous day on the way to Wangfujing.

For breakfast, I went to the food court about 5 minutes walk from my hotel. It was a food court by the Guomao subway station. They have big floor to ceiling posters of their food plastered on the subway and I thought I go check it out. The food court was strangely located at the end of a deserted underground complex. There was nothing there except at the end of the corridor is the food court.

That food court was quite big. Only about three stalls were opened for breakfast. It was still early and they have not completely opened for lunch and dinner yet. I had half a mind of turning around but I did not know where else to go. I did not want to walk. I had enough of walking already the previous day!

I got the noodles above. The stall lady asked me if I want “la” which I thought she meant spicy. So I said yes, give me “la”.  Turns out that she asked if I wanted pulled noodle. The noodles overall was OK. I like the noodles but did not care much for the so-so soup and beef slices. Like I said, the noodles in Beijing is much more tastier than those we have in Vancouver.

I also got this pancake thing. Do you consider this jianbing? The way they prepared it looks the same except that they added a … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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