Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 1: Beijing

Departed from Singapore at 0050, and arrived in Beijing about 6 hours later. There was a little...drama just before i board the plane because i had a sleeping pill overdose. -.-

So the flight was really pleasant for once because i m someone who have problem sleeping during flights, i dozed off the moment we departed and i dont even remember how i got on the plane. haha.

If you need to buy prepaid card, theres a telco store on the left side upon you exit from the customs. I didnt get it cos the lady in the store cant seem to be bothered to help me. That's the first not-so-helpful individual i met. And prob one of the very few i met during my trip.

We didnt encounter any touts, maybe it was too early in the morning for them to come touting and the airport was rather empty.

Legitimate taxi stand is located at Basement.

En  route to hotel.

Cab fare + toll cost us 93 RMB and the journey time was approx 45 mins. It was a smooth traffic day.

It was supposed to be summer, but the trees and flowers in Beijing tells us its still springtime :)

Our hotel, Orange Hotel JingSong East is located near JingSong Station.

We chose this hotel because it was near my friend's office, dont really like it because of its location. I would definitely choose Orange Hotel next time, but prob one that is nearer to town. Take us abt half an hour by cab to travel out everyday.

But i must say the rooms are huge and beds are comfy. Theres free wifi and most importantly, its very clean.

Freshen up in hotel room for abit before heading out for lunch.

unlike sg, the drivers seat is on the left.

Arrived at our destination for lunch, however, we were distracted by the nice smelling and steaming buns! Bought one each. And we all agreed that the 三鲜 flavour tasted better than the pork.

one for 1.5RMB.
三鲜 flavour bun. Juicy and nice!

Satisfied with appetiser, now we move on to the main lunch!

 For lunch that day, we setteled for 那家小馆 - A famous Manchu Restaurant.
  • Yonganli / Silk Market 永安里秀水街
  • 10 Yonganli Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District
  • 朝阳区建国门外大街永安里10号

We were advised to make reservation before we head over, but as it was already quite late (after lunch hours), we thought it wouldnt be hard to get a table, but we were wrong. We waited for almost 40 mins to be seated. Good thing is that, the food were served quite fast

Service was good, they served us tea while we waited.

As we waited, we saw a group of business man in suits arriving at the restaurant. I thought to myself that this must be a pretty good restaurant. 

 Me waiting w nice tea.
 Interior - reminds me of those inns we see in HK dramas

Their famous dish - 皇坛子. This is referred to as the "流落民间的皇家菜", meaning the dish was meant for the royalties but pass down to the commoners.

The dish is supposed to slow cook for 12 hours with many expensive ingredients like fish maw, sharks fins etc.

The version we saw on the menu cost abt 208+RMB, too expensive for us, we ordered a version without the sea cucumber.

Tasted really nice, broth is rich and fragrant. Cant really describe how it taste like, but definitely not to be missed!

桂花山药. so-so.
皇坛子. yums
辣虾. This is our favourite, fried till crispy and the shells are edible :)

The total bill for 4 dishes came up to abt 200 RMB. Which i think was pretty reasonable, it would have been much cheaper if we didnt order the 皇坛子 but it was well worth it.

Upon a satisfying lunch, we walked over to the LG twin tower (diagonally opposite the restaurant) to take a train to Tian An Men station.

The station is directly beside the Tian An Men and Forbidden City!
You cant miss this no matter which exit you take, its HUGE.
Took some pictures at the Tian An Men Square and went straight to the Forbidden City

Entrance ticket for Peak Period is 60RMB per person.

Take note that there will be vendors trying to sell you maps of the forbidden city at 10RMB. You can buy if you want. But note that you can grab the same map for free INSIDE one of the hall.

If u are going to ask the ticket counter, most probably they will tell you they dont have the maps.
Or if you are a budget traveller like me, just download the map and print a copy. Works well for me :)

If you wan to better understand the palace, you may want to rent a multi lingual guide device just outside the entrance.

For us, we just tagged along tour groups and listen to the little introductions and stories that their tour guide was telling their tour group. LOL.
This is like a dream come true. Like since young, i have always watched HK dramas and movies and i always see the palace, but i have nv imagine to be seeing the real one.

The palace is huge and beautiful, but just cannot imagine anyone staying behind these walls for their entire life back then.

Just imagine how tiring it must be for the maids and eunuch to make their way from one end to another. A buggy would have been useful for them.

A vat that was used to hold water, in case of fire, the vat will be toppled over to put out the fire. doesnt sound convincing~ =X

the one throne that causes so much war and blood shed.

delicate carvings on each and every doors in the palace. impressive.

Imperial Garden

Back door of the palace.
Although there were baricade to prevent cab touts to enter the perimeter, however, there is literally no way you can flag a cab if you need one fast. They will pester you once you exit the barricade, but all u need to do is smile and say a firm no and you will be fine. Walk further up to the (small road up) Jing Shan Park. We managed to flag one in 5 mins.

Decided to head to this highly raved snack place, 护国寺小吃. Man, we were so disappointed.

For one, those famous ones like 驴打滚 (Lv Da Gun), 艾窝窝 (Ai Wo Wo), 奶油炸糕 (Nai You Zha Gao) are all sold out cos we were there in late noon.

We ordered the 炸酱面 (Zha Jiang Mian), 面茶 (Mian Cha), 碗豆黄 (Wan Dou Huang), 焦圈(Jiao Quan), only the 焦圈 and 碗豆黄 was not bad. For 面茶, we really cannot appreciate it, its totally bland, probably we ate it the wrong way and we are really not very accustomed to the taste of the 炸酱面.

What a shame. I am sure it is due to different taste bud. Like things that locals like may not be what we like. I saw the locals had a great time eating all the food, including the 面茶 (something like a gooey mixture of flour & some other powder). I will definitely go back to try their famous 驴打滚 and 奶油炸糕 :)
And the things are really cheap, most of them are like 5 - 10 RMB?
Btw you can get 驴打滚 and 艾窝窝, their traditional snack in prepacked form, in this shop call 御食园 as souvenirs in airport or Wang Fu Jing.

Left to right: 碗豆黄 (bean pastry), 面茶, 焦圈 (fried dough stick)

We then headed over to Wang Fu Jing for dinner.

We then headed over to Wang Fu Jing for dinner.
This 冰糖雪梨 became my favourite drink in Beijing. Do try the freshly made ones with pear fruits and dates in it.

Dinner was at this 24 hour sichuan hotpot place call, 海底捞 (Haidilao). It was super awesome and very reasonably price.

Never a fan of steamboat, cos the steamboat in Singapore (other than those i have at home), uses cheap ingredients and very salty soup base. But this 海底捞 place impressed me to the max.
We ordered the twin hotpot that comes with Chicken soupbase and Spicy soup base (must try)

Bill comes up to about 50RMB per person and we have alot of left over ingredients!

And this place have really good service, they give you apron, phone covers to protect your phone, remove the layer of oil on your mala soup and were very fast in refilling your water!

Thumbs up for the awesome service! This will be my top return list the next time i go.

Must order: Sliced beef, hand made beef balls!

Also note that, this place allows you to order "half" portion, we ordered 1 portion for alot of things, the waiter ended up looking at us suspiciously and reminded us that we could actually order half portion.

And we realised why when the food came, there must be like 20 meatballs in one portion! The ingredients come in very big portion. So we are glad the waiter gave us a friendly reminded, otherwise we will be left with more food!

We chatted at Haidilao till about 11PM and decided to head back to hotel for rest. And then the most terrible thing happened to us!

We were stranded at Wang Fu Jing. Super stranded. There was no car, no cab, hardly even the black taxis! Took us almost 40 mins of waiting and changing 3 different waiting spots. :(

This is not cool.

I have researched on tripadvisor before on cab issues, and only know that it is hard to get a cab during peak hours like 4 pm. but i didnt know it would be hard to get at 11 +! :( SO this is a warning to all of you who decide to walk ard WFJ late night, be prepared to take a black cab or just take a train back!

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