Starting the Real Vacation in Beijing

Hi Honey:

Wohoo! No more work … my mission’s done. I can put work behind me and start my discovery of Beijing proper.


I moved into this new hotel last night. It is a little closer to the central city locations. There are quite a few eating places around here and so that is a plus. I know that after a full day of sightseeing and with my body all sticky and all, the last thing I want to do is to go too far to look for food.

The hotel is a bit old. Certainly not nearly as luxurious as the one I stayed in the past week. Yeah, it is not as comfortable too. The pillows is not as firm and you know how fussy I am with my pillows. The air conditioning is not as powerful as I wanted it to be. What upsets me a bit here is that the towels smells of cigarette smoke. Oh well, this is definitely more affordable and I really did not have time to really look for a better hotel, especially when I only had less than 2 days to make my way to Beijing and the past week was work, work, work.

They have a few restaurants in the hotel — a Japanese, a Cantonese, a buffet and also a Pizza Hut. Pizza Huts here are so upscale and fancy. Not like the rundown huts that we have on Wesminster Hwy in Richmond. LOL! I have no desire to check out the Pizza Hut here because the pictures of their food does not look like great pizza. It is more like Chinese flat bread if you ask me.


The location of the hotel is … in the Central Business District. There are lots of new gleaming high rise corporate offices along the busy main road. Can you see how wide the streets are? Most of the time I use the underpass to cross the road.


I found out that the Silk Market is just 5 minutes walk from my hotel. It is just across the street from the nearest Subway station. It was not hard to miss.

This place is like a Bazaar with lots and lots of stalls. I went there the night before after I checked into the hotel. Did not buy anything because it is a place where you need to bargain. And you know I am too thin skinned to bargain. It was really crowded in there. I did not spend much time there.


It was Saturday morning. I started out early and I have a full day planned. Their sunrise starts early. By 5 AM, it is bright already. So I woke up at 6AM. I was just excited to start my vacation proper.

I wanted to get to the Mao’s Mausoleum when they open at 8 AM. I was already out of the hotel by 7AM. The people in Beijing were up bright and early. At that hour, there were a lot of people already. I was just thinking why are so many people out an about at this time on a weekend day.

I spotted a roadside stall with a sign that says “Beijing Breakfast”. Ah … this is exactly the type of breakfast I was looking for. I wanted to eat breakfasts that Beijinger eat.


It smelled nice. It did look very greasy on the pan where they fry the pork, egg and pancake. I did not know what it was called. So I told the lady, “yit yang nar ge” pointing to the man who had just bought one.


“Yau la mah?” (Do you want it spicy?), the lady asked me. “Yau Yau” was my answer. Oh man, I was salivating waiting for them to make mine.


They wrapped this up in two thin layers of plastic bag. Since it was fresh off the pan, it was really hot to handle.

Guess how much this cost? Just 4 RMB, which is like 60 cents. There is quite a lot of pork meat in there too.


I just stood on the street and ate there. No chairs around at all. I think people were thinking I was odd standing there eating and fumbling taking pictures of the food. The lady did notice me and was smiling at me. She must be wondering what I was doing. Obviously I am a tourist given what little Mandarin I spoke and that I took pictures of her stall. I gave her a quick smile in return.

I don’t see anyone taking pictures of their food here. I was wondering how widespread is food blogging in Beijing.

Oh, the food. It was absolutely marvelous. It was messy eating this with juices dripping everywhere. I love every aspect of this. Hot and nice.


I took a train to Tiananmen Square. It is just a few stops away from the hotel along the #1 Red line.

There are two stops on Tiananmen Square. One on the west and another on the east. Judging by the quietness of the station, I thought it would be a great day with lesser people today.

I was so wrong!


By 8 AM, the line is already so long! What you can see above is barely half the line. It snakes down to the back of the mausoleum and then back up front again.

And while I was standing patiently in line, they had to come by and told me I cannot enter because of my bag! I have to be empty handed to go in — no bags, no camera and to carry along an ID. OMG, the Tiananmen Square is huge and they pointed to a place outside of the square where there is a bag deposit area.


Sigh … I was determined to visit the Mao Mausoleum. So I went across the street to store my bags. I carried along the iPhone. Technically that should be OK since it is a phone. I was worried they won’t allow even that. The bag storage is expensive, 12 RMB. I was thinking they are making a killing operating this bag storage area. This might not even be a government operated area too.


Here take a closer look at the line. In my estimation, the line must have been at least 3/4 of a kilometer. The old ladies were constantly cutting in front of me. I was clearly no match for them. So I let them. One thing that China needs is to learn to queue up in a fair way.

What you see in the video above is just part of the line. At least the line moves all the time, although slowly.


The above is the picture on the way out of the Mao Mausoleum.

Security is tight. They make you empty your pocket and made you walk through a scanner. They asked for an ID (showed my passport). On the way in, they sell flowers (50 cents) which quite a number of people buys them to place at the the big imposing statue of the seated Mao.

Everyone was quiet in the Mausoleum. I finally saw Mao. His face was strangely orange in color. He was guarded by two serious looking military officers.

20 seconds and it’s all over.


Lots of people at the back of the mausoleum. I headed next to the Forbidden City … the one place I wanted to visit in Beijing. For that I have the rest of the day … more in the next post!

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. neige.tyro

    the simple foods in beijing are definitely a hit. once had some sort of breakfast crepe and it was marvelous. the stall sold soya milk in plastic bags which seemed weird but understandable as it was home-made and plastic containers probably cost more than a single bag…

  2. Connie

    Ben – great postings in China. just curious why you want to see Mao there. I am an American Chinese and saw that in 1987. Honestly I did not feel a thing, I probably felt more when I visited the people buried in Westminster Abby in London.

    1. Ben

      Hi Connie: Oh it is definitely not because I admire Mao or anything like that. And no, I was not moved in that visit. I just like history and I like finding out about Mao because he (and other ancient leaders in China) helped shape the nation (for better or for worse). I also want to see for myself how so many Chinese desires to pay respect to that man. I went to Mao’s Mausoleum for the same reason that if I go to Berlin, I would want to visit the remnants of Hitler’s bunker or to Lenin’s in Moscow or Washington’s grave in Mt Vernon or the theater that Lincoln was shot or house where Anne Frank lived. Whatever one’s political stand is and good or bad, there is no denying that Mao is a great leader to the eyes of many. History is such that it is always written and defined by the victors. Ben

      1. liz

        Totally agree with you, Ben. It’s part of history whether good or bad. I mean, we went to see Ho Chi Minh lie in state partially to get some air con. It’s hot in Viet Nam!

      2. yellow

        I remember during a grad trip to Europe few years ago, our guide brought us to some ordinary-looking carpark and made us guess what was it about that place. Turns out that the road above Hitler’s underground bunker had been turned into a carpark – something so ordinary and unassuming. Our guide mentioned that to turn the bunker into an ‘attraction’ would be exactly the attention that Hitler wanted. So they decided to do the opposite. Interesting, huh?

  3. Charlotte

    If you ever get the chance, the steamed buns (along with a lot of those fried crepe things, chun you bing, in the morning are just amazing (well, I love carbs).
    I think taking pictures of food in the street is just plain bizarre for anyone who’s not a food blogger…people look at me weirdly too.

  4. Pinoy Gourmet

    Other must tries in KFC China Beijing Chicken roll,Basically a Peking Duck style wrap complete with sauce and scallions,Spicy Diced Chicken a take on a Sichuan style dish.Sigh Why is Fastfood yummier in China??

    1. Ben

      Oh … I just came back from KFC and tried their egg tart since you guys raved about it so much. Now, I gotta go back for the Beijing Chicken Roll!

    2. Elaine

      I agree! North American fast food is so BORING!

  5. Shopaholicinvan

    There’s this other egg pancake that they use those crepe stones (like the ones you see at Cafe Crepe) and they drizzle beaten egg. They then add a crispy flat you-tiao in the middle, scallions and fold it up. It’s simply delicious!! Must try. The lamb cumin skewers is something I always eat and have a fondness for.

    Have you gone to wang fu jing yet? They have the musical fountains; quite impressive!!

    1. Ben

      Hi Shopaholicinvan: I think I know what you mean. Your description of that crepe thing sounds a lot like what I had for breakfast the other morning. Wait a few more days, I’ll blog about it. Yeah, I had been to Wangfujing. Amazing and exciting place. Ben

  6. Shmoo

    Mmmm… jian bing with you tiao… sounds so good but so wrong. 🙂

    Ben, how long are you in China for?

    1. Ben

      Two weeks, Shmoo.

  7. Andy

    Ahh, these pictures are making me crave greasy BJ street foods! Guess I’ll have to rely on my grandparents, haha. Hope you enjoyed your time in my home city! 🙂

    1. Ben

      Hi Andy: Oh, I thought I added your site to the blogroll. I guess I did not but I have now! Oh so you are from Beijing huh? The next time I go there I know who to ask for travel AND FOOD tips! BTW, how come you are so slim and yet you say that you eat a lot? Ben

      1. Andy

        I wish I knew Beijing that well! 😛 And I’m not really that slim; it’s all just a deception, haha. I do run, though.

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