For those who following me on my Instagram, you know that I was in Beijing, China, for 5 days. No, I was not on vacation. Actually I was working. It was my first time being a tour leader for 35 pax group of people, outbound.
So, the places I went were pretty ‘standard’. Touristy spot, places where people come to see. No Beijing tower, no real Beijing city, I didn’t get a chance to shop where local people shop and I didn’t have a chance to play where the locals play.
And I was so mad when our tourist guide told us there are rows of stalls of ‘exotic’ food right behind expensive shopping mall after we got into the bus. It was scorpions and bugs family on a skewer, deep fried. It’s not like I wanted to try it, but it will be awesome to take pictures of it since we don’t have it here, in Malaysia.
It was a cheap package, RM 235 for 5 days. Hotels, sightseeing, food. But with a small cost like that, it only give you a small friction of real experience for being in stranger’s land. Plus you have to wake up as early as 6am in the morning and hoping you are not the last person who jump into the bus. You can’t wander around much or else you will make other people wait for you in the bus with sour face.
BUT! you don’t have to worry about the food. Lunch is served by the time your stomach is growling and have dinner when your stomach is still full. You got local guide that speaks your language to translate what you need and the chances for you to get conned, is very minimal. Overall, it is a safe trip, but not as interesting – adventurous as what you read in the books or what you watched in travel channel.
AND THE STORY YOU BRING HOME IS JUST THE SAME AS OTHERS.
1) TIANANMEN SQUARE
Is the first place we visited on our first day in Beijing.Is also known as Gate of Heavenly Peace, sprawling at 109 acres makes it the 4th largest city square in the world after Xinghai Square in Dalian, China, Merdeka Square in Jakarta and Praca dos Girassois in Brazil.
Built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty, stood and watch to many events from British and French invaded Beijing in 1860, Boxer Rebellion in 1900, protests during the May Fourth Movement in 1919 to the mass military displays and parade and anniversary of People’s Republic. Hhmm it wasn’t that Heavenly Peace, isn’t it?
ALERT!! – When we were there, national song was in the air, any banners is not allowed and yet, hundreds of freelance photographers bugging you to hire them as your personal photographer complete with your photo printed on the spot. Well, never mind them. Because during the day, everyday like this, it is almost impossible to get your picture with clear background without so many photobomber in it.
2) FORBIDDEN CITY
Right after you pass the Tiananmen Square, is Forbidden City which is, today, not so forbidden anymore. House to 24 Emperors (23 real emperors, 1 decoy) from Ming Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty.
Built with the best material that can be found in China : precious wood called Phoebe Zhennan from the jungle in South-western China for the pavillions and complexes. The bridges, fences and pillars made with white marbles stone and floors was paved with golden bricks, specially baked from Suzhou.
The floors are layered with 14 layers(6 meters deep) to prevent enemies digging in from the outside. No trees planted around to keep the area clean. They have it once, but the trees caused the building on fire once due to the lightning struck.
It took 14 years to finish, more than million workers shed their sweat and blood to built all 980 buildings in this Forbidden City. Thanks to its finest built, we are still able to see it after 1000 years.
It is proven since ancient time, when you have the power and wealth, you tend to overspend it like no one cares. Thousands of women or concubine, dinner for two with table full of fancy food which can feed 100 people, if you say no, you off with the head. It is written in every history, regardless which map the history from or which race, or what God the people believes in. When someone hold the power and wealth, they do it in style. Memang keturunan tok nenek moyang kuat enjoy. Kau bising apa?
ALERT!! – Try not to buy anything from the squatters’ souvenir seller on the street here. They do the real quick trick while you are in a rush to enjoy this ancient vast city. If you buy stuff from them in a big yuan note, they returned you small RUSSIAN note which look exactly like a yuan note in a glimpse. Except, the value is 10 times smaller than yuan itself. You only realized it when you wanted to pay the next seller with that. Because they recognize it from miles away. So, If you still wanted to buy souvenir from the streets, prepare small note. It happened to my client, that day.
3) SUMMER PALACE
Originally was a gift to a mother on her 60th birthday by Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Sitting on 720 acres land, consist of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, both are man made. Hills made from the excavated soil to make the lake, meaning what you see at Summer Palace is a man made. Not au naturale.
This place is cold. So it served as a summer resort later on to Empress Dowager Cixi (Empress Orchid – the only concubine then Empress with so much power during Qing Dynasty for 47 years) According to the locals, her spending power was as big as her power in controlling the dynasty. She used all 300 million tael silver just to repair the Summer Palace back to its state after the attack of Anglo French and Boxer Rebellion while it supposed to go to the Chinese navy to protect the north China (Beijing). Well, as you know, China lost to the Japanese due to this.
ALERT!!! – They said it’s a cold place, that’s why the Empress use it as a resort during hot summer winter. No, don’t try to dress like you are in Winter Sonata (Except during winter). Because it’s freaking room temperature, temperature.
4) GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Well, no introduction needed to this one of the 7 wonder of the ancient world. It just that, while I talked to my boss about ‘how good if they provide a cable car to go up to the highest point and we walk down back to the base’ – I found out they did have it after a week I came back from the trip – through Travel Channel series!!!!
ALERT!!! – I just came to learn that Great Wall of China has several pass which enable tourists to enter.
Badaling – GOT CABLE CAR
Mutianyu – GOT CABLE CAR
Juyongguan Pass (This is the pass we used) – NO CABLE CAR
Simatai – GOT CABLE CAR
Jinshanling – GOT CABLE CAR
Gubeikou – NO CABLE CAR
Huanghuacheng – NO CABLE CAR
Jiankou – NO CABLE CAR
Water Pass – NO CABLE CAR
So, please choose one with Cable Car. You still be able to climb the stairs, but not that mad steep like in Juyongguan. And please do EXPECT sharp stinky smell of urine, everywhere.
The steps is very steep and very super high and there is no way normal people WHO LAZY TO EXERCISE to climb it.
I was holding my breath for this. The smell of urine at observation tower is way too ridiculous. I could call this place as URINE TOWER or GREAT WALL OF URINE.
No matter how many times you read about Great Wall of China, from its construction and its history, no matter how many times you have seen it on tv or pictures, it never failed to awestruck you for the first time you saw it with your own eyes.
Oh well… plus this. This is not so great wall.
21,196 km, crossing 3 districts, Shanhaiguan in the east, Lop Lake in the west and and southern edge of Inner Mongolia. To protect them from you know what and who.
Have you ever experienced that the locals or the foreigners in touristy spot suddenly wanted to pose with you? I always do. I know, I have the look that I can camouflage and blend in very well with my appearance. I can go to any part of South East Asia, or even Kazakhstan, people will always think I am the local. or even worse – the native. LMAO.
Hey, climb it or not, you can buy the proof ‘been here done that’ for RM50.
Here is a short video I took from one of the top of observation tower.
5) TIANDI THEATRE (HEAVEN AND EARTH THEATRE) ACROBATICS SHOW
China is famous with its world class performance acrobatics show. It is a must see experience if you are in any part of China. And I was quite lucky to watch the Dream Team of Chinese acrobatics during my short visit in Beijing. 70% of the spectators are foreigners. So, please expect expensive entrance fee, unless if you go with a group of 10 people or more.
Usually I watch acrobatics show on TV, during Chinese New Year. But watching the performances with your naked eyes, it surely makes you try not to blink because it is too awesome to miss in a single blink. Your 80 minutes gone without you even notice it. They had it all, ring of fire, juggling 20 balls at one go, walking on a thin rope and girl without spine (as if) balancing the wine glass, colorful costume, great music, lighting and story plot.. it was like you are watching a theater with full story play
ALERT!!! – Popcorn and drinks here are freaking expensive.
TO BE CONTINUED ~