Chilled to the bones
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 10 of 11 › view all entries
January 18th, 2006 – by: Clarafina
On Sunday we had a great yum cha at a restaurant called Paradise Gardens in Jinmao Tower where Michelle's Mum Belle works for IBM. I'm pretty sure its the tallest building in China and you can see it from everywhere in Shanghai. We lunched with some of Belle's work colleagues and though the conversation was mostly in Chinese I didn't have too much trouble understanding the jist of it - I guess Zhang Laoshi's 3 years of tutelage were worth it!
At 7:14pm Mich and I caught the express train to Beijing. It was sooo luxurious. We got free food (including cakes, fruit, and a hot dish) and we would have gone for a lower class except we wouldn't have got a ticket with Chinese New Year/Spring Festival being so close.
After settling in we caught the subway to Tian'anmen Square which was absolutely huge with a big portrait of Mao presiding over it all on the Gate of Heavenly Peace. A little girl wanted her photo taken with me in front of it which was quite cute.
The next morning we happily booked into the Beijing City Centre Youth Hostel, right opposite the main train station.
During the day on Tuesday we went to the Summer Palace, outside Beijing.
That night we had the infamous Beijing kaoya, or Peking duck, at a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Boy was it good. The service was crappy but we saw the duck being cut up right in front of us.
On Wednesday Mich and I decided to head out of Beijing for the day to a city called Tianjin, south-east of Beijing. When we arrived we headed across the frozen river (where people had cut holes and were fishing in - I felt like I was amongst the eskimos then, especially with the people wearing these crazy furry hats!) to see the Treaty Port Architecture of one of the main streets. It was okay but not overly interesting. We then headed to Keissling's Bakery for some 'lunch'. Mr Keissling was the former chef for the German Emperor William II and established the bakery in 1918...and let me tell you it was still just as yummy as back then...Mich and I each felt we had to sample about four different cakes...(visualise expanding waistline...!). Afterwards we headed to the Ancient Culture St where we visited Tianjin Tianhou Palace, a temple to Tianhou, the goddess of the sea. For dinner we stuffed ourselves full with the hostel buffet for Y39.
The next day, Thursday, I headed out to Badaling (a section of the Great Wall) and the Ming Tombs while Mich went to visit her uncle. Her Mum wouldn't let her go to the Ming Tombs as last time when she went (aged 9) her grandma fell over and broke her leg and ended up in hospital, and Mich has been blamed for it ever since, as Chinese people believe it is bad luck to visit the tombs (rather like the bad luck that befell the people who opened Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt I suppose). I went with a young Colombian couple, a Canadian couple, a girl and 2 guys from Hong Kong, 2 guys from Korea, a guy from Holland, a girl and a guy from Sydney, and a guy from England from various HI hostels around Beijing. Surprise surprise our first stop was a jade factory...needless to say I didn't buy anything. After that we had a brief look at the Ming Tombs (needed longer to appreciate the place and explore, I personally found it not that impressive) where 13 of the 16 Ming emperors are buried - the place has the best Feng Shui in the whole of Beijing - then we had a yummy lunch at a restaurant nearby. After that, surprise surprise again, we headed to a hospital (!) where we were taken into a waiting room to wait our turn to see a doctor who would diagnose our ailments by looking at our tongue and checking the pulse on each wrist....hmm. Well, I was the only one who was healthy (meanwhile the only one with a hacking cough I guess they didn't pick up!) whereas all the others had various 'diseases' such as 'heat in the liver' diagnosed and were told to buy a box of Chinese herbal medicine for Y400. Needless to say no-one did and finally we headed to the Great Wall. This was really really fantastic and even in photos you can't appreciate the majesty of the place. While up on the Wall I met two Melbourne guys, one of whom I recognised from a pub on Brunswick St where he works...what a small world hey...Had dinner with one of the Sydneysiders then met up with Mich again.
Tomorrow we're going to try to head to Huanghua, or the 'Wild Wall' as it is commonly known, the only completely non-restored (and therefore not too touristy) section open to the public. That is, if we can get there. More on that later! Hope you are all well and are surviving the Melbourne heat - I can't wait to hit the beach when I get home - not long now!
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