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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beijing, China - Day 4

Day 4
The wind has slowed down a little. Still cold, but at least not freezing anymore! It was also our last day to do some sight-seeing in Beijing as we will be leaving to the airport early morning the next day. Another DIY day as well.

Saw a random stall selling fresh pineapples so we each grab a piece.

Yuyuan Park (Jade Lake Park)
We decided to go to the Yuyuan Park as it is famous for its beautiful cherry blossom garden especially in Spring season.

We do have a little difficulty finding the entrance of this park. Maybe we came down at the wrong stop from the subway. While searching for the entrance for this park, we stumbled upon this huge bell that serve as a monument.

Finally, after about 10 minutes or so, we managed to find the entrance to the park. There is a fee of RMB10 per adult.

There is a huge bridge in the middle upon entering the park. The bridge is so big that it makes us small.

There are also a few stalls selling souvenirs and candies. Spotted a special candy called the "blow sweet", where the sugar is blown into the shape of animals. First time seeing it in real life after watching it so many times in movies/films.

We bought a huge cotton candy because sis havent had a cotton candy in years. Look! It's bigger than her head!

We strolled along the park, heading towards the cherry blossom garden as our aim.

Along the way, we spotted lots of willow trees, and I love them so much.

This garden is built in the middle of the city, thus we can see a lot of skyscrapers surrounding the park.

Along the way, we were accompanied by beautiful sceneries.

Before that, we thought it was a short walk to the cherry blossom garden, but we strolled for more than one hour and we still havent finished half the park or reaching the cherry blossom garden.

We finally spotted a place with a few of blooming cherry blossoms trees. We are not sure whether if it is the cherry blossoms garden, but the flowers have not fully blossomed yet....or if we have yet to arrive at the cherry blossom garden. But we decided to just make do with what is around, and call it a day for this garden.

Although not much, but it was still lovely!

We walked our way back to the entrance and subway station.

We had higher expectation for this park. It was so huge that we got a little tired walking just to reach the cherry blossom garden. Maybe we should've taken the boat ride along the lake. 

With no more itinerary to go, we decided to head back to Wangfujing as some of them did not join us yesterday (it was too cold for the Ethan baby and even the adults!)

We reached Wangfujing early, so we headed to one of the food court in one of the malls to have proper food first. One that sells noodles and rice, not live scorpions or worms!

Then we headed back to the Wangfujing Food Street. This time we remembered to take a picture at the entrance!

We walked around, then headed to the souvenir area to grab some souvenirs back home.

We also managed to take a photo with the trishaw statue.

Overall, the souvenirs are cheaper here than in other tourist areas. We also realised that it is also cheaper to buy souvenirs here than Silk Street. 

That's the end of my Beijing Trip itinerary! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Beijing, China - Day 3

Day 3 
We woke up to a super strong wind in Beijing. The moment we stepped out of the apartment, we were hiding every inch of our skin and hugging our jackets tight. 

And this day happened to be a DIY day with no more tour guides and the convenience of the tour van to walk around Beijing. Hello Beijing Subway system!

Inside the subway
Nothing really special with the subway in Beijing. Just like any ordinary subway system!
A very long escalator ride

Olympic Green aka Olympic Park
The Olympic Park was constructed for the 2008 Olympics. It consists of many stadiums for the games.
Map of Olympic Park
The most famous building in the park is the Beijing National Stadium aka Bird's Nest. I LOVE the architecture of the building.
The Bird's Nest
A closer look
Another infamous building is the Beijing National Aquatics Center aka Water Cube.
The Water Cube
Look at the spacious ground surrounding the stadiums.
Panaroma view
Still remember the Dragon Line from Day 1?
It is known that this Olympic Park was also built on the same Dragon Line for good feng shui. Not too sure if we are standing on the right line in the picture below, but it seems to be the only straight line from the entrance all the way....
On the Dragon Line
Midway in the Olympic Park, we also spotted a cute police car...
A tiny police car
And a grand gold vintage car!
Gold vintage car
We also passed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) entrance and took a poto with the beautfiful colourful wordings.

The Bird's Nest and Water Cube was not a disappointment at all, but the super windy cold weather was not convenient for us to stay outdoors for too long. We almost froze to death despite wearing so many layers of clothes!

My sis and I tried to take a selfie, but the wind blew our hair away from our faces. This is us, with our big foreheads and messy hair!

Yonghe Temple (Lama Temple)
This is a temple or monastery with huge influence of Tibetan Buddhism.
At the entrance of Lama Temple
We were greeted by nice row of green trees on each side of the walkway. It makes the place so peaceful and beautiful. We were also given a packet of joss sticks for prayers.
Beautiful walkway
We didnt expect the temple to be so huge. So many buildings and halls. We spend around 2 hours just walking from one end to the other end.
One of the many buildings inside
Another building  
And another building
In one of the building, there stood a 26 meter tall sandalwood statue of Maitreya Buddha. It was really grand and magnificent.
26m high Maitreya Buddha
The Lama Temple was a nice place to visit, but as it was so huge, we did get a little bit tired after 2 hours. We didnt really see in details all the statues and carvings and architecture of this place.

Silk Street aka Silk Market
This place is something like a mall and you can find anything here. From souvenirs to fashion. And it is indoor so we can hide from the wind (if it's cold) or the sun (if it's too warm).

Although it has like 6-7 floors, we somehow didnt manage to really buy anything from here. Maybe we were just not in the mood as we were so tired battling the cold wind since early morning. Imagine being so tired that we even forget to take any photo from this place! o.O

Wangfujing Food Street
This is one of the MUST visit in Beijing. It was really an eye-opener place even for an Asian. It is a narrow street located in the Wangfujing Shopping District. The entrance is located right next to the main street of Wangfujing.
Along the street of Wangfujing
We were greeted by lots and lots of local delicacies in the street.

From buns, to scallops, to colourful glutinous rice, to prawn balls....
Clockwise from top left : Buns, Scallops, Glutinous Rice, Prawn in Egg Balls
 ....to crabs, to decorate desserts, to animal intestines....
Clockwise from top left : Animal's intestines, Rice Cakes Korean Style, Cute Desserts, Crabs
....to cute buns to roast sparrows....
Clockwise from top left : Cute buns, Roast Sparrows
....to SEAHORSES, to WORMS, to LIVE SCORPIONS, and to BULL'S BALLS AND PENIS!!!! Yes, you can find a bull's manhood in this street!
Clockwise from top left : Starfish / Live Scorpions, Worms, Seashorse, Bull's Testicles & Penis
We did not take any of the exotic food though. We only had the normal food such as the bbq beef and chicken satay. I think the fried worm and fried grasshopper taken in Phuket was my limit! Bucket list already ticked. LOL
Eating safe food like beef satay topped with chili powder
Besides food, the street also sells lots of souvenirs such as keychains, fans, decorative stuffs, handmade musical instruments, etc.....
Colourful beads , Hand-knitted cartoon plants
Among them, one of the alley played a live opera show on a mini stage.
Live opera singer

The Wangfujing Food Street was really a fun place to explore and experience. It was a cultural shock to see people selling and eating those live, moving scorpions and other exotic food! One can definitely experience the Asian and China culture here!

Bar Street
We googled and found out that there is a famous bar street in Beijing so we thought we should give it a try. We were expecting the street to be very happening and filled with crowd for nightlife. However, when we arrived, it was really quiet. Maybe the strong wind was keeping everyone at home. (We checked and the temperature was 9 degrees but feels like -3 according the weather report).

But since we were here, we decided we might as well grab a drink. Went inside a random bar (forget the name already), and got "chopped" by the price of two bottles of beer. (Note: always remember to ask the price before ordering).  
Sad by the price of a Heineken Bottle
We chilled in the bar for awhile, listening to live music. We left slightly around midnight, and only to be told that we missed the last train home at the subway station. (Note: Please check the time of the last train home the next time). We ended up taking a taxi, and thankfully the driver did not "chopped" us with the bill by charging us using the meter and not a fixed amount at an exaggerated rate.

Overall, we survived Day 3 without a guide and I think we deserve a pat for a group of people that doesnt read chinese at all and only speak little mandarin! =)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beijing, China - Day 2

We continued Day 2 with Catherine Lu Tours and it was again another big day for all of us. We are finally going to visit THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA for the first time!

Day 2

The Great Wall of China - Mutianyu
As everyone knows, the Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world. It stretches miles and miles protecting China from the invasion of their enemies. Some people claimed that we can even spot it from the moon. Not sure how true is this myth though.....

There are many sections of the wall that is open for the public. The famous ones that are usually visited  by tourists are Badaling and Juyongguan as they are nearest to the Beijing city.
We opted to visit Mutianyu instead as it is slightly further but are significantly less crowded based on reviews and feedback that we read online.

We started our journey very early in the morning as we stayed quite far. We were all dozing our way in the early morning By the time we managed to open our lazy eyes, we were greeted by a beautiful scenery.

Beautiful random lake with trees at the side
We thought we are almost reaching, only to found out that there is still a little uphill ride to go before reaching the entrance.
Mutianyu Entrance
We opted to take the cable-car up instead of the hiking! Took the lazy tourist option. Hahahaha...

The cable-car ride was a little scary as it is very open. Those with fear of height might opt to hike instead! And those traveling with young cheeky children should definitely hold tight to them at all times!
Cable-car ride to the Great Wall
After the cable-car ride, we hiked a few flight of steps and finally reached THE great wall.
First photo ON the Great Wall
We were in Tower No.5 and as advised from our guide, we will climb towards Tower No. 1 for a nice view. Notice that the guide used the word "climb" and not "walk"? Well, it's because the great wall are mostly steps!
Great Wall of China
I did not realize that before my trip here. I have always thought the great wall is a flat slope and maybe just a few steps, but no!! Most of them are steps!! Uphill or downhill are all steps!!!! It caught me thinking that the soldiers and armies back them must have very strong stamina and fit to patrol the wall.
The Wall of Great Wall
The climb might be a little tiring, but it was worth it. Look at the beautiful view of the Great Wall.
The view of the journey we've hiked
The highest tower at the top of this picture - the place we started
Some white flowers has even blossomed and they are so beautiful with the vintage wall behind as a background!
Beautiful flowers against the Great Wall
Peeping out the doorway
The un-restored area of The Great Wall
We also saw some abandoned broomsticks in one of the tower and decided to be cheeky by flying on them and be wizards for awhile.
Come on Firebolt, the Golden Snitch is there!
There is a famous quote about the wall - "He who never climbed The Great Wall cannot be deemed a man". It truly was an honour climbing and being at the Great Wall.
Finally, not so many steps
The cool weather on that day makes the climb not so tiring as well. It took us about 2 hours to climb from Tower 5 to Tower 1, and then back again to Tower 5. Of course, we stopped alot for photo-taking moments. 

Can you spot us?
Spot us!
Instead of taking the cable-car ride down to the hill, some of us decided to take toboggan ride down. The queue was quite long compared to the cable-car. I think we queued for almost 1.5 hours for the ride.
Toboggan ride + cable-car
It's a downhill ride on a simple sledge with small wheels. There is a stick at the front of the sledge when pressed down, the sledge will come to a break. It was quite a thrilling ride as the sledge go pretty fast and lots of time, we did not have enough time to break and hit the sledge in front of us! 
Toboggan ride was fun!
Here's a short video of me taking the ride from behind.
Overall, the Great Wall was not a disappointment to me at all! It was my favourite place in my Beijing trip!

The Summer Palace
When I first heard about the Summer Palace, I thought it would be just a palace with a nice garden in it. I was shocked to find that the summer palace is soooooo big.
Entrance of one of the building in Summer Palace
And what I love most about this place was it was built as a 60th birthday gift by the emperor to his mother. It took 15 years to complete! What a filial son!

The Kunming Lake is man-made in the shape of peach to represent longevity. The ground/sand that was dug from the lake was made into the Longevity Hill. The Tower of Buddhist Incense stood on the Longevity Hill, being the highest building in the Summer Palace.  
Kunming Lake with the Tower of Buddhist Incense on top of the Longevity Hill
Kunming Lake with the 17 Arch Bridge
The Pavillion
The place is filled with so many willow trees that they are so hauntingly beautiful. 
Willow Trees
 There are also rooms that featured the original furniture used by the olden emperor/empress inside one of the building. We can only see from the open window or door. No entering!
Ancient furnitures
This place also featured the longest corridor in the world, with painting of myths and legends from the Chinese. It is also situated right next to the Kunming Lake which gives us a beautiful view of the place (if there are not so many people visiting!).
The Long corridor is indeed very looooooooooooooong
Of course, not to forget the beautiful wooden roofs on the octagonal pavilions!
Love the roof
It was a very long walk to complete the Long Corridor. When we reached the end of it, we were all a little tired. So we opted to take a ride on the Dragon Boat for a little tour around the Summer Palace.
Dragon Boat

Us on the Dragon Boat

The view of The Tower of Buddhist Incense from Kunming Lake.
View across the lake
A closer look at the The Tower of Buddhist Incense
After the boat ride, we walked closer to the 17-Arch Bridge that connects to one of the island inside the Summer Palace. This bridge was carved with 544 lions in different postures.
17-Arch Bridge
beautiful marble

It was around sunset when we leave the place. It was lovely!
We were a little rushed in the Summer Palace as we arrived late afternoon and it is a big place to discover! If only we have a little more time, we would've been more relaxed and spend more time to enjoy the beauty of the place.

I love my Day 2 in Beijing!

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