Asia Trip 2014: Beijing

Hello!
I’m back again with another diary entry on my Asia Trip.

This time, I’ll be sharing with you my
5 days and 4 nights trip in Beijing.

Prior to Beijing, I was in Shanghai and Taipei.
(You can read about those parts of my trip by clicking on the city names above)

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We left Shanghai in the afternoon and arrived in Beijing on October 21st. At the airport, we were picked up by our driver who escorted us for the duration of our trip. Special thanks to my brother for hooking us up with our own private limo transportation and hotel room!

Our driver brought us back to our hotel and checked us in, so that we could get settled down before going out for our first night in Beijing.

For dinner, we decided to just eat at the hotel. I still had a stomach bug at this time, so none of the food really interested me. The Peking Duck above was probably my favorite out of everything we ordered, but still just okay in comparison to Beijing standards. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Peking is the English name for Beijing.

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After dinner, we went out for a late night drive around Beijing, stopping at a few different sights. Our first stop was The Place, which featured a HUGE panoramic LED screen ceiling that spanned the length of the outdoor shopping mall.

On screen, they showed music videos and other various interesting clips. There was sound to go along with everything as well.

I’ve been to Beijing about 4 times so far in the past, and this area didn’t exist before! It’s probably only about 2-3 years old? Really is a great place to visit at night for a stroll, to shop, or simply sit at a cafe.

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Next we did a little drive by Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Sadly, we thought that we would come back to visit these two places during the day time, but never got a chance to because of how bad the air pollution was. Maybe one day when Beijing has better air quality again, I’ll bring Erick back to see it. The Forbidden City is really one of my favorite historical landmarks in Beijing.

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After a loop around Tiananmen Square, we found ourselves at Wangfujing. The Wangfujing area is quite interesting, as the main street is a high end outdoor shopping area. But if you go into some of the smaller alleyways, you can find old traditional restaurants and flea markets.

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Near by was another strip of outdoor vendors selling food, somewhat similar to a night market. Most of the food looked weird to me, and some of the smells were so foul that it made me want to yack. I think my senses were just a little over the top from being sick.

We decided to end the night here as we were pretty exhausted.

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The next morning we woke up bright and early and started off the day with the free breakfast provided by the hotel. They have an awesome buffet style breakfast that serves both western and Chinese stye food.

Our first stop was one of the 7 wonders of the world.. you guessed it! The Great Wall of China. Since the Great Wall is up in the mountains a little North of Beijing, I was able to capture this gorgeous photo. I don’t know why, but I love photos that have mountains that fade off into the distance, lol. Isn’t it pretty?

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The only thing that sorta sucks is that, even though we are far from the city and in nature, there is still pollution all around us. How horrible!

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Because of the air quality, we weren’t able to hike too much. We would quickly get shortness of breath and our chest would begin to burn. A normal climb truly turned out to be a lot harder than it should have been… and I would know since this was my 4th time at the Great Wall!

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To make matters even worse, I actually threw up sometime during the climb. Luckily it was inside of a bathroom stall. Thus began the vomiting stage of my stomach bug.

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Good bye Great Wall. Wish I could have spent all day climbing you again!

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On our way back down, we opted to take the hanging gondola since I wasn’t feeling well. It was my first time taking this down, so I was quite ecstatic, haha.

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After our climb, our driver took us to some local restaurant near the Great Wall. He told us that he takes all of his clients there. I wasn’t really fond of the food, maybe because it felt a little dirty to me? It was located in a tiny old village.

I snapped this photo below of our limo transportation. I thought it was an interesting contrast to see old meets new.

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Our next destination wasn’t on our list of places to visit, but our driver took us there anyways. I guess he sort of had his own plans? He brought us to a series of 2 Emperor tombs.

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Both of these emperor’s had acres of land just for themselves. One of them was buried deep underground, while the other one was buried in this large park that he built for himself.

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Each of these emperor’s knew how to create the most baller burial grounds ever. I can’t imagine anyone nowadays building a resting place as grand as these dudes.

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Having walked all day, we decided to head back to the hotel early. We were exhausted. For dinner, we ended up eating KFC and had the hardest time ordering from the menu due to lost in communication. Our night ended at the hotel’s bar where we had some fancy whiskey.

When we got back to our hotel room, we noticed that someone had come in to clean our room, despite the fact that we turned on the “do not disturb” sign. I got a nasty feeling after seeing how our room had been cleaned, but I dismissed it and went to bed.

The next morning, I still woke up feeling somewhat uneasy. To rid my fears, I quickly checked my wallet to make sure that all of my money was still there. That’s when it all sank in. My bad feeling and fears came true. I had $600+ USD missing from my wallet. I ended up writing a whole review on the hotel with my story on TripAdvisor.com if anyone is interested, but I won’t talk about it much here. #badmemories

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Anyways, moving on… here’s the Summer Palace!

This is another one of my favorite attractions. I can’t imagine that someone once lived here and called it home. That would be a dream, I think. Either that or I’d hate it tremendously. But for now, lets stick to dream.

We took the boat across the water to the other side that’s furthest from the main palace that overlooks/faces the water.

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Then we did some exploring, took some photos, ate some ice cream, crossed over a bridge, and walked back to where we originally were, lol. Horrible planning decisions made by me, but whatever, thats exercise right?

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To actually go into the palace building, you have to pay money. I’ve never gone the before in the past since the place is way too huge that I usually run out of time, but this time we did.

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We had to climb up many many stairs to get to the top. At the very top of the palace were some statues. They wouldn’t let us photograph them, but Erick was sneaky and snapped one before they could stop him.

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The view from above was beautiful, and I’m happy to have gotten the chance to experience a new sight in Beijing together with Erick. It’s just too bad that the air quality was even worse on this day!!

Apparently there’s a scale that measures how bad the pollution is from day to day, and the max on the scale is 500. Los Angeles’ average is 25, but while we were in Beijing, the average was around 250-300. Beijing has in the past gone up as high as 700, which isn’t even within the scale’s measurement!

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Now that we were at the top, we looked for a way to exit the Summer Palace. Behind the palace were a lot of hiking trails that wined back down to the bottom. It was a lot more relaxing going down that it was up.

Next we went to 798 Art District, which surprisingly turned out to be Erick’s favorite spot in all of Beijing! If I had known, I would have spent even longer there, because I love all things art related!

Sadly, I don’t have any photos from this portion of our trip because I took photos with my cell phone and that cell phone no longer exists. But thinking back to what we did… we went to a few galleries (one of them showed Hollywood life), random shops, saw live spray paint graffiti, bought Totoro decorations for our succulent plant at home, Samsung gallery, Toffee making shop, and grabbed some beer.

Later on we called our driver to pick us and headed over to visit my cousin Jade, who lives in Beijing! It was a really amazing way to end the day, getting to spend it with my family. I got to know her husband better and also her daughter. Plus, my food poisoning was over, so I was able to eat our enchilada’s without any trouble! Thank God for some good Mexican food.

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On our last full day in Beijing, we decided to keep it simple. We were supposed to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, but decided after eating and shopping for a bit, that we wanted to call it a day.

We got picked up at our hotel to have lunch with one of my brother’s colleagues. I guess he felt sorry that we had money stolen out of our hotel room, so he wanted to treat us out for a proper Peking Duck lunch at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.

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It was a pretty enjoyable and intimate lunch, as we had our own private room, carving chef, and servers. I guess the only thing that would have made it better is if we were there eating with our friends from back home! Haha, that would have been awesome.

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This was perhaps the best meal that we had in Beijing. It was also the best Peking Duck I’ve ever had. Look at that skin!

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Here are some snippets of other dishes. Apparently they use every single part of the duck! Anyways, I wasn’t too fond of trying new things, so I mainly stuck to the main part of the duck (what’s shown above).

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After lunch, we thanked our host and went on our way. Since we were in Qianmen Street, we took a stroll and did some shopping at H&M and Zara. I didn’t get anything, but I believe Erick bought a sweater from Zara?

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Our very final stop in Beijing was to the Pearl Market. I guess it wasn’t anything very special, but I couldn’t help but want to make a stop there because I absolutely love bargaining with the vendors. We didn’t buy anything however.

This day compromised of mostly eating and shopping. We had our driver drop us back off at our hotel after the Pearl Market. That’s when we discovered later that there was an entire underground mall beneath our hotel! WTF. How did we not know this before? We ate hot pot at one of the places underground, and it was good. Believe it or not, but I’d probably eat there again.

The next day we went back down to the underground mall and had yummy noodles for breakfast before we went on our flight to Korea! But anyways, I’ll leave Korea for another post.

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Overall, Beijing was a pleasant experience, minus the stolen money and pollution. There’s really not much else we can complain about since we got our hotel comped and we had our own limo driver. Sad to say, we probably won’t be visiting Beijing again for a long time, mostly due to the air quality. It really is that bad. If you don’t believe me, go there for yourself!

Hope you enjoyed reading about my Beijing trip,
until next time~

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xoxo Sarah 

2 Comment

  1. Historical sites are the best! 🙂
    Im sorry you didn’t have the best experience >:((( I thumbed up your review so others can read it!

    1. aww thanks so much Catherine! I appreciate it a lot 🙂
      and yes, historical sites are awesome~ hoping to get to travel more this year!

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