Monday, 22 October 2012

SHANGHAI: Flying Back With Many Memories

All in all I became aware that the younger Chinese generation are very fashionable and follow western trends, especially the hair of the boys which is usually very stylish. In general they tend to know English, but cannot understand the spoken as well as the written English.

The young Chinese love eating out and having snacks now and again. They like dressing up in colorful and cheesy styles, which might seem for us a bit fancy and childish, but for them it is fashionable. Also I have never seen a teenager spitting on the streets, this is still an old habit and is not accepted by the young generation.
My fear of China being probably not safe enough has gone, especially when I saw how strict they are: a lot of tube entrances have security checks and if you have a big bag, you have to have it scanned before you can enter the tube.

Chinese are in general very very friendly towards foreigners and help when you have a question. They also are very superstitious: the lift has no 4th floor sign as it is an unlucky number. If you ask for the wifi password, it is highly possible that it involves the number 8. In one hotel it was 10 times 8.

Finally I have to say that it was so far one of my favourite journeys, as it was language-wise a challenge and such a different culture. I loved experiencing the way of life of the Chinese, trying their food, trying to understand their writing and language and way of thinking. The journey was not the easiest and made us frustrated now and again, but that’s what made it so exciting and challenging and every single day was full of new impressions which exercised our mind, assuring us of a good sleep every night! Thank you China, I enjoyed my time in your country and would love to come back again some time in the future. Zai Chien!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

BEIJING: Eating Out And Shopping In Beijing

If you are looking for bars, restaurants and a bit of karaoke, I would suggest going to Houhai bar street, ping an da jie, Sanlitun and Nanluoguxiang. These streets are very modern and hardly give you the feeling that you are in China. If you fancy a memorable brunch, you should try the Temple restaurant. Beigongmen is worth seeing as well, a lot of Chinese hang out there too. 

This is one of the dishes we had in Beijing. It is a rabbit dish with a little bit of chili.

Pure Lotus is one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing. It is one of the few vegetarian restaurants in Beijing, with a very special architecture and fantastic service. The venue is a bit hidden and it takes you a while to figure out how to get there, but as soon as you’ve found it, you can start enjoying your evening with a top service.

If you want to go shopping, 77th street is awesome, it is cheap and you will find cheesy stuff like shiny accessories, huge teddy bears and jumpers in Super Mario shapes etc. You will find boutiques in Xidan. It is a huge shopping street with Chinese snacks. Yaxiu market is great too.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

BEIJING: Seeking Beijing’s Hidden Secrets

If you walk through the streets of Beijing, you discover a lot in any street. There is always something catching your eye, if it is surprising or just different from your previous experiences.

The next days, we tried to do a bit less walking as our legs were already tired from 1.5 weeks walking through the streets of China. 

We decided to see the famous Summer Palace which is also very big and every single corner includes historical souvenirs and is stunning.

The Forbidden City is also hardly signposted anywhere and then mostly in Chinese so it took us a bit of time to figure out if it is that place in front of us.

The venue is absolutely massive and it took us hours to walk round every corner. Here again, you have to pay a fee for every single entrance to an historical building. It is not much, but having seen a few, it takes quite a bit of your travel budget.

Friday, 19 October 2012

BEIJING: Windy Morning On The Great Wall

A tour guide came into the hotel early in the morning to pick us up. We picked up two more Romanian guys from a different hotel and headed towards the Great Wall by a small van. It took us probably about an hour to get there. The tour guide explained that it is best to get there as early as possible as a lot of tourists will be there during the day and then the queue will be too long.

We went to Badaling which is the most well-known part, but the most beautiful part is Mutianyu. This morning it was very windy and luckily we could still get on the top with the cable cars. 

Tourists who came one hour later had to be sent back as it was too windy and they did not allow us to use the cable cars. When we arrived at the top, a lot of Chinese were there, kissing the highest wall of the Great Wall, and taking pictures of it. 

Generally the stairs were very steep and it seemed like a workout walking up and down the Great Wall. The surface of the stairs was at some points slippery, so you should definitely hold the bar on the side, making sure that you are safe. Every single part had holes, where soldiers had been placed in former times to protect their country from invaders. 

The great wall is 200 kilometres long and unfortunately we could not walk all of it as we had just 30 minutes on top of the mountain. I have to say that the view was absolutely stunning. We had a clear sky, it was sunny and you could see the whole length of the wall.

It appeared unreal when you followed the whole wall with your eyes and then you realised how much effort and energy it must have cost to build this unbelievable world wonder and what humans are able to create. This venue is absolutely one of the must-sees and will keep in your memory for ages.

After this stop, the tour guide took us to a Jade jeweller and explained to us that Jade means dragon and power and Chinese wear it to protect them from evil. Next, we had a tea ceremony. We learned that Oolong tea is good for the stomach, Jasmine tea good for the eyes and lychee tea good for the skin. The popular green tea is good against pollution.

For lunch we went to the Olympic restaurant where all the athletes used to have lunch during the Olympic games in Beijing.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

BEIJING: Scorpion On A Stick

In the following days we focused on seeing one famous stop, because they are not close to each other and it takes time to see everything in one venue. The Temple of Heaven is for example beautiful and takes you a few hours to walk through. That’s why I was wearing trainers almost every single day.

Next we went to the very famous snack street in Wangfujing where you can find all kinds of insects on a stick to eat. 

It is basically like a colorful, loud food street, including sweet, meaty and sour snacks. 

It is so packed with Chinese and tourists and is definitely one of the must-sees. 

We decided to try one of the fried scorpions. After trying it, I’ve to say, that you could hardly taste the meat, it tasted like something sugary as it was dipped in a sugar syrup. Just the shape of the scorpion and its claws makes you scared. 

We did not have the courage to try one of the disgusting looking spiders or larva. When we tried that scorpion, even the Chinese youngsters looked at us surprisedand said “yark” which showed to us, that it is not a common dish, but a tourist attraction and something different and challenging to eat.

For dinner we had the delicious Beijing duck. The duck’s head came in a separate plate and the waiter said it is supposed to be a delicacy. I could not convince myself to eat the head but have to say that the duck's meat was unbeatably delicious and a must-eat.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

BEIJING: Watching The Panda

Beijing is generally colder and more windy than Shanghai. We could hardly see the sun and the air seemed very polluted. 
Our next destination was the Beijing zoo with its main attraction, the panda. 

The zoo, the same as all the other monuments is very big and you can very easily get lost. We had to pass through the tigers, monkeys, giraffes, crocodiles, snakes until we finally got to the panda. 

These little chicks have been put in a cage with a snake. You could tell that they are very scared of what will happen to them.

There were a few of them, either being lazy and lying on some wood or eating bamboo, but all looking very very cute so that you would like to get into the cage and start cuddling them. The panda is definitely the star in Beijing and you can buy anywhere a souvenir of a panda.

Chinese seem to like monkeys as most of them stood in front of monkey cages, feeding them, even though the signs said “please do not feed the animals”.

It almost appeared like an entertaining event, watching the monkeys catching the food and getting funny noises from them.

When you walk around the streets of Beijing, you notice that Chinese have dogs as pets in this city.
I have not seen as many in Shanghai as in Beijing and mostly they are small and fluffy. Please do not ask me if they feed them for years to then eat them one day!