Sunday, October 07, 2012

Day One - My 8D Beijing/Chengde/Tianjin Highlight Tour (8天皇城北京/承德/天津精选游) with Hong Thai Travel [康泰旅行社]

My third visit to mainland China started at sunset on a plane that departed from Terminal 3, Changi Airport.

It had been so long since i last took Singapore Airlines (SIA) and it was a good break from budget airlines with their tight, suffocating seats with no entertainment!

Add in the steaming hot meals that make you wonder if the plane has a kitchen to call its own and the endless servings of coffee, tea, red wine, orange juice etc!!!

That's not all! The dessert was a luxurious bar of Magnum Chocolate Truffle ice cream! Oh well, i can forgo all the above so long the air tickets are cheaper.

We arrived in Beijing at around 1am, were warmly received by our tour guide shortly after and reached the Holiday Inn Express hotel at 2am. I was totally sleep deprived due to all the movies i was watching on the plane!

Our hotel room! I was in China with my parents and most hotels in China do not have 3-bed room;  therefore, one of us had to make do with a collapsible or sofa bed.

Rise and shine for breakfast! For the rest of the seven days, i only indulged in toasts with butter and jam and hard boiled eggs. Frankly, i was seriously craving for a plate of nasi lemak or roti prata when i was in China.

Beijing was foggy! But for a person who hates the heat and humidity, this was also at a cool of only fifteen odd degree Celsius! So nice to feel the fluff of my hair!

All car plate numbers in China start with a Chinese character! Since we were in Beijing (北京), most cars (with the exception of military and embassies) would have 京 on their car plate.

Lunch at Quanjude; the world famous restaurant serving Peking Duck that counts top government echelons and celebrities as its loyal customers. Check out my review here.

Dubbed as the big pair of shorts, this iconic building for China Central Television was finally completed in May this year. Despite the fog, September is known to be the best time to tour Beijing; winter is mercilessly cold, summer is terribly hot and spring is the best season for sandstorms! 

Our first touristy highlight - Tiananmen Square and Tiananmen where the big portrait of Mao Zedong had his eyes roving all over the place! Click HERE for my post.

The biggest palace in the world - The Forbidden City! I have covered almost all my content here and here. Check them out!

After a few hours of hiking through the palace, we were brought to Wangfujing [王府井] shopping street, which is equivalent to Orchard road in Singapore [hint: selling branded stuff that could be cheaper back in Singapore].

An hour was given for us to roam the busiest street in Beijing and before long, we found ourselves spending our valuable time in a multi-storey book store!

We also made full use of the remaining time to check out Donghuamen night market [东华门美食坊夜市]. It was more a food street than a night market as there was nothing else you can buy except those to stuff your stomachs.

Xiao Cheng, our tour guide, explicitly told us that hygiene would be an issue and warned us not to try anything from the food street. Given that it was my first day in Beijing, i guess it would not harm to pay some heed to his advice.

Therefore, the only thing i can do to stop myself from buying a serving of smelly tofu (that smelled disgustingly good) was to take pictures to pass time. :(

Candied fruits [冰糖葫芦] that originally used haw instead of fruits.

Deep fried ice cream! At this moment, while going through the pictures i have, i regretted not buying any to try out! The colder climate, as opposed to hot Singapore, would deter the growth of bacteria right?

Weird looking crabs.

Traditional Beijing cakes that are made using bean paste.

Sale of fried beef tripe. This seems popular with the locals as you can see hawkers offering this for sale every few stalls. Not my cup of tea though.

Grilled squid!! Darn, the Gang of Four should organise a BBQ trip in the near future. It has been so long since we last set up 'shop' at Yishun Dam!

For the adventurous, you may also find skewers of scorpions, maggots and poisonous centipedes to have i-dare-you matches with your friends!

Fried starfish?!?! This food street contained so many food surprises that i have never seen before!

The whole stretch was teeming with loads of visitors when the coach drove past the food street on our way to another location for dinner.

Traffic in Beijing was bad even though we were still fairly lucky without facing a complete traffic standstill for more fifteen minutes!  

Dinner was at Daixilou [大戏楼]; a beautifully built restaurant that combined meals with Peking operas. 

Frankly, this concept would have no problem attracting foreigners. But for overseas Chinese like myself, i don't even watch Chinese operas in Singapore! So what makes you think i would concentrate on the Peking opera?

Food was mediocre even though i personally enjoyed the small appetisers like mustard covered cabbage! Lighting was dimmed during the opera and this made eating somewhat frustrating, especially for fish with hairline bones.

The highlight of my day was definitely on this incident that happened during dinnertime. 

I broke a plasticky-feeling spoon while scooping the meat from a deep fried fish and i was prepared to pay for the damage, if anything. The service staff informed me that i had to pay 5 RMB (equivalent to S$1) for the bad quality spoon! 

There was nothing exquisite to the spoon and i was about to reply the waitress that i would gladly pay 50 RMB for her to take out another 9 spoons. Why? 

Because i am so going to break the spoons with just my bare hands just to show everyone how bad the quality is. Didn't manage to do it though, as mom vehemently voiced out her unhappiness over this unreasonable demand (to her, it is a matter of principle).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Cavin Teo for sharing the experience of your beijing tour Which is really nice.I think you cover all things in your camera famous in Beijing. That’s a awesome article you posted. I found the post very useful as well as interesting. I will come back to read some more.

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