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.


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.


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.


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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Beijing Day 2: Tiananmen Square

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

It was a wet morning when I woke up the next morning. What is better for breakfast than a hot bowl of sour and spicy noodle soup?


We had breakfast at Ben’s favourite noodle shop. It is a 24-hour noodle shop. We ventured out early to beat the crowd in Tiananmen Square. The noodle is handmade and we can see the chef at work. The sour and spicy soup is very appetizing.

A combo which comes with a soft drink and a marinated egg is RMB22 (about $3.70). One thing for sure, the noodle here tastes better than those in Vancouver. Not sure why? Perhaps, the flour or the seasoning in the flour, or because it’s freshly hand-made.

The noodle shop is called Malan. It is really nothing fancy and is one of the many chain noodle restaurants around. What I like most about the restaurant was that they pull the noodle only when you order it. So it takes a while to get it made even.

I agree with Suanne. The noodles in China is much much better than the ones we had in Vancouver. I still don’t know why. For me, in Vancouver, I normally notice the broth and the ingredients. The noodles are just, well, noodles. But here in Beijing, I find that I take note of the noodles more than I do everything else.


My first glimpse of the red wall of the Forbidden City. After breakfast, we took a slow walk to the Donganmen; one of the entrance to the Forbidden City.

The suite that I had been staying in for the past few months are just minutes walk away from the Forbidden City.

I wanted to not to show Suanne the Forbidden City. I want to leave it on for a day when she is not too tired. I mean, she just got to Beijing yesterday. I know she is tired and despite her excitement, she is dealing with jet lag.  She does look tired, isn’t she? 🙂


The above are some of the scenes outside the Forbidden City which is separated by a moat and tall wall.

I wanted to bring Suanne to walk by the walls of the Forbidden City through the side entrance. It is a lot more beautiful here and a lot more quieter. The Forbidden City has four entrances. This eastern entrance is called Donghuamen.

Too bad we did not have a picture of the Donghuamen gate. This is the gate where the concubines of the Emperor enters the Forbidden City for live long servitude. Once the concubines enters the Donghuamen Gate, they will forever stay and never leave the Forbidden City.


The above is Wu Men or the Meridian Gate. It is the first entrance to the Forbidden City. I remembered it’s name because … (more…)

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Beijing Day 1: Wangfujing

Ben’s suite is just around the corner from Wangfujing Street. Location wise, this is perhaps a great place to stay as it is very central in Beijing.

Wangfujing Street is Beijing’s popular shopping street. It’s like Robson Street in Vancouver or Times Square in New York.


The name Wangfujing means the Well of the Prince’s Mansion. During the Qing Dynasty, this street is where a number of residences of princes were located. Right in the middle of Wangfujing is a well famous for the sweetness of the water.

That well is no longer there. All that is left today is the marker above.


Wangfujing Street is lined with malls and plazas. Many of the famous departmental stores were first opened on this street. The more famous of which is the Dongan Department Store and the Wangfujing Department Store.

Part of the street is pedestrian only. It’s very wide and spacious. It is bustling with people most of the time. So it was exciting to walk the street everyday.

The street is not long. Maybe it is about 300 meters or so.


Wangfujing  Snack Street is almost famous for it’s night food market. You’ll find all sorts of street food there. But it is mostly a tourist trap.

You can even catch a live …  (more…)

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Beijing Day 1: Fish Tray and Dessert

After a nap in the afternoon from a long tiring flight, I was refreshed and ready for more food adventures. Ben wanted me to rest some more but I was just too excited. I did not come all the way to Beijing to just sleep!

Ben brought me to the Oriental Mall at the south end of Wangfujing for dinner. It was a good idea going there because there are so many restaurants and all of them look so good to me. And they were all packed with customers which tells me that the food must be good.

It was so hard to decide … Sichuanese? Mala Pot? Hairy Crabs? Macau? Cantonese? Ben wanted me to choose one but I don’t know. I want to try every single one!


Ben actually knows what he wants me to try but he wanted to bring me around the mall and the section called Gourmet Street. The mall is huge. The length of the building spans two subway stations.

The restaurant that we went to specializes in food served in a tray. It’s all in one tray kind of food.


I like that they serve sunflower seeds for customer to snack on while you wait for your dishes. It takes a while for the food to be prepared and so it is quite common for these sort of restaurants to serve snacks like these.


We opted for a Fish Tray. The fish tray is pricier than the other meat. It was RMB210 (about $35) which was expensive for Beijing’s standards. BTW, what do you call this type of dish/restaurant in Chinese? Anyone know?

The fish is charged by weight while other meat like frog leg is fixed price. A fish is at least 2 kg. There were lots of stuff in the tray like seaweed, mushrooms, peppers, wood ears, tofu, etc. These are cheap extras that you can add to the fish tray.


It was spicy and numbing hot. For those who loves Sichuanese Cuisine, this is something they will love. The tray was heated with some charcoal at the bottom. So, the food is always hot.

This is something you need at least two people to eat, sharing style.

We had tried this before. The only place in Vancouver that serves a similar dish is at the … (more…)

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Going To Beijing

The much anticipated moment has arrived. It had been almost two months since I saw Ben and now I am visiting him in Beijing.

It was time to go to the airport. The flights to Asia are mostly red eye flights. I am not sure why it is almost always red eye flights. Anyone knows why?

My flight departed at 2:50 AM. So, I had to be in the airport before midnight. I took a cab from home to the airport. Although the distance is just about 10 km, the trip costs $30, including tips. Anyway, just remember this $30. I went to the airport early just to make sure I did not miss anything and in case I need to rush home to get anything. Every thing did go smoothly!.


There were two meals on the direct flight to Beijing on Air China. The first meal is a breakfast. I opted for western breakfast which the main item is an omelet. The other option was Chinese and it’s main item was porridge. The meal was ok.


The second meal I had was beef with noodles. I did not finish the food because Ben reminded me to save some room for Beijing breakfast. Yeah, he was telling me all of the places that he wanted to bring me to eat. I was excited to say the least.


I arrived very early at 5:30 AM. The airport was not busy at that time. It was the first time … (more…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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