Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day Seven & Eight [Qianmen, Capital Museum, Central TV Tower, Yashow Clothing Market] @ Beijing (北京) with Hong Thai Travel [康泰旅行社]

The last leg of my most recent China trip and let's start by bidding goodbye to the luxurious Chunhuiyuan Hot Spring Resort [春晖园温泉度假村]!

Our last day in Beijing was definitely the foggiest! Visibility was good for at most two-three hundred meters although the situation improved as we neared centralised Beijing. 

Tiananmen Square once again! I guessed i must have passed by the same area no less than six times in my eight-day trip; this time round, you might have noticed the bouquet of flowers that was previously missing from the big-ass vase. 

We were told to disembark the coach and proceed to our first destination for the day; which i assumed was the above beautifully crafted tower.

Assumption was proven wrong when we were brought to this duller looking Archery Tower [箭楼] instead. 

As far as location is concerned, the archery tower is located directly north of the other tower which was known as Qianmen [前门]. In the past, this whole area (including the forbidden city) was designated as the imperial city (or inner city) with walls that effectively blocked all entries except through the six access gates. 

Archery Tower was literally a stone's throw away from Qianmen gatehouse. Its purpose is obvious; to kill any trespassers who managed to breach the Qianmen gatehouse. 

As a building with historical significance, i was hoping for an enlightening history lesson. 

It was in the beginning until i realised that the guide was explaining more and more on this mythical creature known as Pixiu. By now, it should not catch you by surprise to know that it was another agent-commissioned shopping trip! 

I was in no mood to hear any sales talk and inconspicuously stepped outside the hall to take pictures! The Archery Tower was an ideal place to take pictures of Qianmen! 

Dad striking a pose against the scenic backdrop - even he could not stand wasting his time to listen to those salespersons and hence, made the decision to join me! 

Qianmen Pedestrian Street - with a history of over 500 years, it was a 840-meter long street with building styles that mostly hailed from the late Qing period.

It was less than four days to China's national day and like Tiananmen Square, such floral decoration was a must to celebrate the birth of the world's most populous country. 

Known affectionately as Dang Dang Tram, you can in fact take a ride on this operational sightseeing tram for a small fee even though it has been missing from the street for almost forty years!

Many international brands have set up shop along the main street and Starbucks was no exception. Many of you might remember that even the Forbidden City could not escape from its influence! 

I shunned the main street for the side street! We were given a mere ten minutes to "take some pictures for memory" as quoted by the tour guide. One family was apparently pissed about it and eventually took thirty minutes! 

They should have told me and i would not have wasted precious time waiting for them! 

Taken while on our way to the next place of interest. The word "京" in red means that the car belongs to the Central Guard Bureau of Beijing Garrison. 

Capital Museum [首都博物馆] - with over 250,000 cultural relics, this would be one museum that Van would spend her whole day wandering from gallery to gallery.

The building was completed in 2006 with a contemporary yet imposing design. Given the time limitation, we were given only 50 minutes instead of the 90 mentioned in our optional tour itinerary. 

The galleries were really interesting; some with portrayal of scenes reminiscent of the olden times. Honestly, i prefer this kind of display over the high-tech ones with videos and interviews. 

A classical Chinese bedroom for the newlyweds where red means good luck and prosperity. 

Wedding certificate from the 1940s. Unlike the simple one we have nowadays, this piece of legally binding paper included the names of the grandparents and great-grandparents! 

This was the boring section; it reminded me too much of the excessive agent-commissioned shopping trips we have to endure for the entire trip. 

A miniature overview of a mock street in China. 

What caught my attention was the gallery on Hutongs which are simply lanes created by the construction of courtyards that lined up the alley. 

Many iconic hutongs were demolished in favour of high rise buildings and many more are in danger of disappearing. Just to give you a basis for comparison between then and now, you may refer to the above map sketched during the Ming dynasty. 

Photograph of a snow-capped forbidden city before we depart to the next section; food. 

Location - the 405-meter high Central TV Tower that had a revolving restaurant where we would partake in a buffet lunch with panoramic scenery surrounding us!

A European sculpture park next to the tower. From the look of it, it was not open to the general public and could be solely used to host special events. 

I could not resist the temptation as the holder of the tower! 

Instead of lions, a pair of graceful dragons stood guard over the tower that was built in 1992 and currently held the title as the tallest structure in Beijing. 

Admission ticket which was already included in our overall tour package - 198 RMB (equivalent to almost S$40) for buffet lunch and entries to the tower and underwater world for one person on weekdays. Note: we did not cover the underwater world.

Lunch was nothing impressive but so long it can fill my stomach, i am not complaining. 

That's how far we were from the ground! My legs turned slightly jellyish although it was still manageable. To challenge my mild fear of heights, I should attempt bungee jumping from the Macau Tower! 

The revolving restaurant - the moving part was located in the middle section where the dining tables and seats were. 

Bird's eye view from the observation deck. 

To be honest, the views could have been amazing if we could catch iconic structures like the Bird's Nest or the Forbidden City which were unfortunately too far away in that foggy day. 

Visiting the Giant Panda House at Beijing Zoo. For my more informative post, please click here

Now coming to mom's favourite overseas activity - shopping in wholesale market at Sanlitun Yashow Clothing Market [三里屯雅秀服装市场]! 

There were a total of six levels and you can usually find stores selling similar products on the same level. Like anywhere else, bargaining is a must. However, instead of asking for 50% off the quoted price, go for 80-90%! 

In China, Beijing is BJ in short. For the rest of the world, BJ is short for blowjobs. 

One level was especially dedicated to the imitation goods. For me, i don't see the point of buying fake branded products when i should instead strive to buy the originals! 

D&G coats! We got bored after an hour or so as the wholesale market place was smaller than the Platinum Mall in Bangkok and the clothes offerings were pretty limited to winter wear. Eventually, we sought refuge in a cafe and saw half of our tour mates there! 

Our last meal in Beijing! This was the end of Day 7 as our flight was scheduled at 1am the next morning, which means we had to leave for the airport after our dinner! 

Day 8 was spent on the SQ plane where i barely slept due to the massive collection of recent blockbuster movies on board! From my memory, i think my eyes were closed for no more than 90 minutes! 

And i could not drag myself to sleep when day broke and i had such impressive views up in the sky! 

Pulau Ubin! Gosh, i could not wait to return back to Singapore where i would be free from the money grubbing guide and be able to eat all the local delicacies like satay, fishball noodles, rojak etc! 

The war zone of the 100% full capacity airplane.

-The End-

For other days, please check out:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four 
Day Five
Day Six

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