Beijing Day 3: Dinner at the Dumpling King in Beijing APM

We did a little shopping after a day at the park and after having lunch before headed back the hotel to rest. There is so much to see and do at the Wangfujing Street.

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Later on that night, Ben took me out to the Beijing APM Mall to have a late dinner since we already had a late lunch. This one is one of Ben’s favourite restaurants and one he often goes to.

The restaurant name is simply called Dumpling King. On one hand we thought it is a Taiwanese restaurant and yet on another hand it could have been a Shanghainese one. Oh, it does not matter. The food was really good.

By the time we got there well past 8PM, it was pretty quiet already. Ben said that many Beijing restaurants gets quiet at that time because many people likes to start dinner at 6 or 7PM.

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We ordered 8 items which included a bowl of steamed rice. Ben wanted me to try a lot of stuff but I kept telling him that I can’t eat that much. He keeps telling me that since the food prices here are so cheap compared to Vancouver, it does not matter if we can’t finish them.

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Ben ordered their signature soup dumpling. They have quite a number of varieties and since it was so difficult to choose, he said let’s go for the most expensive Xiao Loong Bao on their menu. The first impression is a good one as the dumpling has finely kneated pleads.

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The ginger for eating with the dumpling is very finely cut too. Good knife skill.

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The xiao loong bao is quite … (more…)

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Beijing Day 3: Lunch at Er Mei Restaurant

It was almost 3 PM by the time we got out of the Bei Hai Park. We were really hungry at that time. There were a number of restaurants around the northern entrance of the Bei Hai Park and so we explored the area to look for a place for a late lunch lunch.

I remembered coming across a shop which sells roasted chestnut with a very long line. There must be like at least 50 people lining up and the waft of roasted chestnut was so fragrant. As far as I would like to try them, the line was just too long.

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We settled at the above restaurant called Er Mei Restaurant. Despite it was almost 3 PM, the restaurant was full. So we guess this would be a great place to settle for lunch.

We had to wait for 10 minutes for a table. We took it as a good sign.

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We had freshly made soy milk to quench our thirst as recommended by the boss-looking lady. The soy milk is served hot. It is not sweetened. They gave us sugar on the side for us to sweeten to our own preference. It was really nice.

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When we asked for a recommendation from the lady-boss, she recommended the “Gung Bao Ji Ting” which she said is the signature dish of the restaurant. We were skeptical at first …  (more…)

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Beijing Day 3: Bei Hai Park

After Jing Shan Park, Ben brought me to another adjacent park, the Bei Hai Park which is located to the north east of the Forbidden City.

A lot of people will enter the Bei Hai Park from it’s official entrance to the south but Ben wanted to bring me to the entrance where there are more action. That entrance is in the east side of the park.

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Just outside the entrance is a local market place. It was very crowded with a lot of people coming out buying local foodstuff and almost all kinds of other things you can think of. Why, we even saw people selling motorized wheel chairs there with quite a selection too displayed on the street!

And the things here are a lot cheaper than the center of Beijing. I bought a cloth shoe for the equivalent of $8 Canadian here while it is easily 2 to 3 times more expensive in the touristy sites.

The line behind me was a line to buy some Beijing style pastry. We did not get any since we still have a lot of exploration to do in Bei Hai Park and we do not want to hold the pastry a long the way. Moreover the line is just too long and people were buying things at such a brisk pace that we were kind of worried that they might not welcome us browser and curious types. 🙂 So off we went into the park.

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One activity that is popular in the park is to practice Chinese calligraphy on the pavement using a big brush with water. The calligraphy is so beautiful that Ben remarked that he wished he had pursued this when he was younger.

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The entrance to the park is RMB15 (CAD2.50). Bei Hai Park is an … (more…)

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Beijing Day 3: Jing Shan Park

After breakfast at Tai Hing, Ben brought me to Jing Shan Park.  It is located at the north end of the Forbidden City and gives a great view of the palace from above.

Ben said he wanted to take me here because he wanted me to have a glimpse of the Forbidden City from above and also this is a great place to experience the culture of the Chinese people.

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There is a hill in the middle of Jing Shan Park. Believe it or not, it is entirely man made. It is actually created from the earth that was excavated while building the moat around the Forbidden City. And the whole excavation is done manually!

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Jingshan Park used to be connected to the Forbidden City and is also the imperial park for the palace. Today, it is separated by a busy road from the palace.

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The entrance to the park is only RMB 2 (about 35 cents Canadian). That is so cheap. Oh but then in Vancouver our parks are free.

The best time to visit the parks in the city of Beijing is during the weekends. Beijingrens loves to gather in parks with friends and family and spend the day pursuing all kinds of activities. They certainly have a healthy lifestyle and that is why I don’t see a lot of overweight people around.

I love the colour of the ginko trees in their brightest yellow. It was autumn already and many of the trees are beginning to shed their leaves.

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It was a Sunday that Ben brought me to the park simply because he wanted to show me the festivities.

There were … (more…)

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Beijing Day 3: Breakfast at Tai Hing in Oriental Mall

As usual we woke up early to have an early head start of the day. It’s hard to sleep in. Especially when I am so excited. The strange thing is, I was expecting to feel the jetlag hit me by now. Instead, it did not.

Ben brought me to a Hong Kong style cafe in Oriental Plaza for breakfast. There is another Tai Hing also about 5 minutes walk away from the apartment, we went instead to the Oriental Plaza as there are more choices because the Oriental Plaza has a couple of subway stations.

Tai Hing is a popular chain restaurant from Hong Kong. It used to be a small siu mei (roast meat) shop in Hong Kong and over the years, it had turned into a chain restaurant with a presence in China.

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Tai Hing had just opened for breakfast and we were one of the early birds here. Tai Hing is a slightly upscale Hong Kong style cafe. It has a nice and pleasant decor.

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Ben really likes the iced milk tea here. The milk tea is served on a bowl of ice to keep it cold instead of having ice in the milk tea which kind of dilute the drink. The tea is smooth and strong. So is my milk tea hot.

On the other hand, the serving of ice outside the cup is a good idea too. In China, Ben said that he makes sure he does not drink anything that is not boiled, especially ice. It is because the water here is not as clean as we have in Vancouver.

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Ben brought me here to try the pineapple bun. Unfortunately, Tai Hing only serves pineapple bun at lunch time. That was such a disappointment. So, I opted for French Toast. It is served with a pat of butter and of course syrup.

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The French toast here is unlike those that we find in Vancouver. There is no … (more…)

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Beijing Day 2: Fancy Dumplings Dinner in Qian Men Dajie

Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.

After visiting the Beijing Railway Museum, we returned to Qian Men Dajie to do more exploration.

There are so many side streets and most of them are new. From the looks of it, they are still expanding the entire place. I bet once they are done, this place will be at least twice its size.

We sneaked into one of the new lesser known side street and was surprised with what we found there.

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We came across a dumpling restaurnat where passer by can view the chef at work. They were making some fancy dumpling wrappers. First, they roll small pieces of dough into a flat disc. They stacked a few of the rolled out dough together and rolled the edges in such a way into a wavy form. We were enticed to go into the restaurant to try the dumplings there.

Yeah, we were not particularly hungry but we were so taken in by the chef at work we decided to go in.

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We ordered three items to try. The first item is of course the siew mai made with the fancy wrapper. We opted for pork siew mai.

We did not even know what we wanted. We just went in and ordered what everyone else is eating.

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The siew mai did look fancy with the top that looks like a flower. However, we found that … (more…)

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Beijing Day 2: Beijing Railway Museum

Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.

After visiting the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, we went for afternoon tea. Guess where we headed to?

Yeah, with all the walking we were dead tired and certainly needed a drink.

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We had milk tea with red bean pearl.

Isn’t the red bean pearl lovely? I like it but I know people in Vancouver would find it odd. It is more odd than the plain black pearls.

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We also had lotus seed Portuguese egg tarts. You must have guessed it now. Yes, it’s KFC.

The milk tea and egg tarts were RMB19 (about CAD 3.20). The egg tart is not as big as those we get in T&T but I love them. They are slightly bigger than the dim sum size.

Super crispy shells isn’t it? It is so unbelievably crispy and yet did not flake as much. Yeah, I can eat this all the time.

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After the afternoon tea, we went to another museum near the Tiananmen Square. This time, we went to the Beijing Railway Museum. The entrance is RMB20 (about CAD3.30).

I brought Suanne to the Railway Museum because the railway is such an important infrastructure to a vast nation like China. In the past few years, China had been building their highspeed railway system like mad. Despite the high profile accident a few months ago, I believe that this network of highspeed railway will do to China what the interstate highway system and aviation industry did to the US the past century. Today, China has the largest network of highspeed railway and also the fastest trains on the planet (although they did slow down all the trains after that accident).

But Suanne was bored stiff here. I can see it in her eyes. LOL! I guess girls do not take to train as much as boys do. Trains are boys toys.

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Beijing Day 2: Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.

After lunch at the Goubouli, we visited the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall. It is located near the Tiananmen Square.  This is a place where you can see Beijing’s past, its present day and its future plans.

I thought this would be a great place to bring Suanne for orientating her to the layout of Beijing. This is a lesser known attraction in Beijing. For those of you who likes to find out more about Beijing as a city, this is a great place to start with.

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Entrance to the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall is RMB30 (CAD$5) per person.

Things that I remembered which we did not take a photo or unable to capture with a camera is there is a glass floor on the third floor which covers half of the entire hall where an aerial photographs of the city is exhibited with sounds and light shows. There is also a huge electronic book that supposed to turn the page at the wave of the hand but we can’t seem to get work. I also remembered seeing a section of other stadiums used in the Olympics besides the famous Bird Nest and Water Cube.

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There is a 3D  model of the Forbidden City. Ben reminded me of the gates that I had just passed through this morning like the Wu Men, Duanmen, Tiananmen and Zhengyangmen.

Having been to the Forbidden City several times already, I am quite familiar with the layout. Only about half of the Forbidden City is opened to the public, did you know that? What I hope to see some day is they open up the entire Forbidden City and I would certainly love to walk along the walls. I bet the view will be great from there.

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There is a huge bronze relief lining the stairway between the second and the third floors which showcase Beijing in 1949. The city’s focal point is the the gilded Forbidden City on the impressive ten-meter high and nine-meter wide relief.

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The most impressive is the exhibition which features miniature model of the entire Beijing metropolitan area.

Yeah, quite jaw dropping. They apparently keep this model up to date even though Beijing is building at a frenetic pace. See the areas outside of the models? Well, it is actual satelite photos extension of whole Beijing. Yeah, you can even walk to the end of the hall where the Summer Palace is.

The orange patch of buildings is the Forbidden City and the lake beside it is Zhongnan Hai which is the the central Chinese government operate from.

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Beijing Day 2: Goubuli Lunch in Qian Men Dajie

Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.

When exploring Qianmen, we stopped at one of the restaurant for lunch.

There is a side street called Dazhalan Jie along Qianmen. It is both Qianmen and Dhazalan that is the main shopping street here. The restaurant we went to is technically along Dazhalan Jie.

This is a famous Tianjin restaurant called Goubuli. In Chinese, the name Goubuli means “even the dog will ignore”. It does give you the notion that the food is so bad that even when you throw it to the dog, they won’t touch it. 🙂

Actually, the story many decades ago is that the proprietor of the Goubuli is a man who has a nickname called Gou (dog). His stall is so popular and he is so busy that he does not acknowledge you. Oh, the official English translation for Goubuli is Go-Believe! Fancy huh?

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This is where I experienced a service that I never encounter before. We usually hang our jacket on the back of the chair. The server will remove the cover from the back of the chair to cover over your jacket. Perhaps this is a way to prevent any accidental spills onto your jacket?

Yeah, I never quite know why they do it. Maybe it is to prevent smell sticking to the jacket. Someone says that it is to prevent people from stealing stuff from your jacket.

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The prices here are not cheap since it’s a touristy place. We picked one of their combo for their famous buns which comes with several buns in different flavours. They served the buns in individual steamer. Quite cute.

Actually the food here is super expensive for Beijing standard. So I recommend you come only for the novelty of eating in a Goubuli.

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The buns were ok but nothing to shout about. It is regular steamed buns to me.

Being a southern Chinese, I am used to meat buns that are larger and you eat by picking up with your hands. I am referring to buns like char siu bao. However, I find that the buns in Beijing are a lot smaller and they usually eat this by picking it up with chopsticks. (more…)

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Beijing Day 2: Qian Men Dajie

Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.

We exited the Tiananmen Square on the south side. We passed through Qian Men which is known as Zhengyang Men.

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Zhengyang Men once guarded the southern entry into the Inner City.

Oh it such a waste. I wanted to bring Suanne up to Zhengyang Men to see the exhibition up there. There was an interesting display of life in Beijing in the old days. Too bad, Zhengyang Men was closed for renovation when we were there.

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There is another gate of defence besides the Zhengyang Men. There is an Arrow Tower which was connected by side walls and the Zhengyang Men to form a trap area if the enemies were able to pass the Arrow Tower.

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The above is some kind of a Mile 1 indicator of Beijing which is located near the Arrow Tower.

It is more of a Mile Zero marker. This marker marks the center of Beijing and also the front gate to Beijing. Actually, this is a new marker which was put up only in recent times. This reminds me of the Mile Zero markers that we had seen in Washington DC and Madrid. So it does look like a copy cat marker. (more…)

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