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24 June 2007
*Photos will be uploaded soon, let me finish my homework first though*
I don’t know where to begin because there’s so much to talk about, but I’ll attempt to cover more of the interesting attractions and features of Beijing/Tianjin/Chengde and avoid the flak.
This trip was definitely one that kept me detached from school life; away from all the stress and hectic-ness you get while in Singapore. Even better was the fact that my phone had no network coverage in China, making my trip much more enjoyable.
Ok, here I have to clarify some of my misperceptions of the people in China and the living conditions.
In preparations for the Beijing Olympics 2008, the citizens of the main capital of China are definitely more cultured, more gracious, more civilized. Majority of the toilets here have increased standards of cleanliness too.
You have got to take a look at the mascots for the Beijing Olympics. They are called (from left): BeiBei, JingJing, HuanHuan, YingYing and (not in picture) NiNi. Join them together and you get BEIJING HUAN YING NI (Beijing welcomes you).
Ok, and I have compiled the top 8 things I have learnt from the trip:
1) They are still spitting on the floor.
2) Watermelons are simply their favorite. We had watermelons for dessert at 11 of 12 restaurants. And I had either Sprite or Coke for EVERY meal, it made me feel gaseous.
3) Most of the time, you have to snap your camera twice before you get a decent picture. The first picture will never fail to have a bicycle right smack in your photo.
4) They can speak English. Visit almost any shopping centre in Beijing, and 80% can speak a rather satisfactory level of English. Don’t laugh at their accents though.
5) There are a lot of courtesy campaigns in Beijing, telling people to be cultured citizens, all in a bid to present a good image for the delegates visiting their capital in a year’s time.
6) Know your math! S$1 = 5 Yuan. So a 4 Yuan canned drink costs only 80 cents, and a $1.5 mil Yuan jade necklace is worth S$300 k.
7) Don’t know how to bargain and you end up the biggest LOSER! Most of the departmental stores there allow you to bargain with the stallholder. My mum’s a pro at bargaining, she managed to slash most of the initial offers by more than half.
8) A lot of people from all over the world are visiting China! This was also the first time that I saw so many Malays at a foreign country too.
And here the adventure begins…
I must NEVER take a midnight flight again, even if its taking SQ. Apparently, our whole tour group was so tired when we arrived in Beijing around 7 a.m and still had to visit Tiananmen Square and the Palace Muesum.
But I have to confess, the variety of movies SQ provides are incredible. There were 80 movies in total, and so I watched Blood Diamond (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly) & Closer (Jude Law, Julia Roberts). On the way back home to Singapore, watched the Number 23 (Jim Carrey) and Shooter (Mark Wahlberg).
First stop: Tiananmen Square
It felt really cool to be at Tiananmen Square. Usually you would see Tiananmen only on TV, or in websites, but never experienced it personally. The ‘Square’ was probably made up of 500 RI Parade Squares. Security was real tight (The security guards were so stern, and if you attempted taking a picture of them, they’d just stretch their palm and stare at you.), and the flow of tourists was incredible.
At this moment where the weather was scorching and dry, all I could yearn for was a BOTTLED COLD DRINK. Thank god there were stalls like these everywhere.
Second stop: Forbidden City
This place covers an area of 1012 hectares with a gazillion rooms, and was the residence of Emperors from this-and-that- Dynasties. Everyone walked until their legs almost broke. I can’t imagine how those emperors, clad in their gold-plated longpaos, can still strut so glamorously down the aisle.
Other things on Day 1:
Trishaw Ride – with the trishaw riders shouting damn loudly until my ear drums almost blasted. They brought us around some old kampong-like houses.
Wangfujing street – This is a bustling shopping haven, and there’s even a 7-storey library/bookshop.
Acrobat Show – INCREDIBLE. Was expecting some crappy performance but this turned out to be a world-class act that was so ’30 seconds of Fame’ worthy. There was the ‘umbrella-spins-on-my-head/nose/mouth/ass’, the ‘jump-through-the-hole-which-gets-smaller-and-smaller’, ‘unicycle-riding-which-starts-carrying-more-and-more-people’, and the ‘i-can-contort-my-body-in-all-shapes’ acts.
Started the day with the one in many more similar ones to come: BREAKFAST! Left off for the Jade-making factory, where like any other factories, they show you the manufacturing process, impress you, and subsequently entice you to buy their products. Same goes for many other things we encountered in this trip. My family is a very patronizing one, so we end up buying a lot haha.
The highlight of the trip, as many people would call it: THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA. This is the very first ‘7 Wonders of the World’ (and YES, it’s not 8 Wonders of the World. Don’t let Kimberly Locke confuse you.)
Whoever thinks they can climb the GWOC in 1 day is obviously d-u-m-b, because the GWOC spans over 6000km. I think I climbed around 1km only, and my legs on the verge of melting. But I think I did quite well already, considering the amount of practice I have climbing 7 storeys in the Raja Block. One thing funny to note was that as I made my descent from the top, I could hear HUGE PANTINGS all over me as though the monster in The Host was chasing after them.
Other things we did in Day 2:
Mink Tomb – ok it’s just some tomb. I forgot what it was about. (You can’t expect me to know what is every single tomb about dammit.) Ok, but I can say that the very sad thing now is that most of the artifacts are mostly abided by the ‘see-no-touch’ principle, so you can’t really feel the authenticity of everything. But well, this is for the sake of future generations.
Hot Spring Resort – Ok, besides the naked old men, it was a pretty relaxing moment, plus it’s indoors. Most of the mini-pools were like 42 degrees Celsius (trying diving in it). Had a dinner full of dumpings.
Skating/Dancing/Chap-pa-lang show – There were European and Chinese dancers, Flamenco and Chinese dancing. Somewhat entertaining, but whole performance lacked a certain connection.
Visited a Pearl factory, almost the same as the Jade factory.
Ok, we then went to the Empress Cixi Living Quarters, and she must have had a rocking good life because her HQ is also SUPER huge. The coolest thing about the living quarters is that there is this 700m long sheltered walkways, with ancient carvings and paintings, all different variations, on every single pillar. That’s how she, along with her mass entourage, walk that runway. Also visited the Tian Tan, some heavenly place.
Also visited a Tea factory afterwards, and appreciated all kinds of tea, exotic ones. Paid quite a bomb for one particular tea, which claims it can solve some digestion problems, you know, all those things.
Ended the day with KFC for SUPPER! Had HOT WINGS. Yumyum. And I can say, China has quite a lot of US franchise. Like Starbucks, McDonalds, Giordano etc.
Nosebled IN THE MORNING!! Thank god I managed to make it flow back. Don’t know how I did it, but I did. Haha. (and so my nose shit remained red for the rest of the day). Tour guide took us to more departmental stores to empty our wallets. My mum continued bargaining, and my dad, my brother and I continued sitting at benches, looking around aimlessly haha. As we went one of the marts, I found out that the Pocky they sell here only cost S$1. and I got cheated because I paid 5 packets of the same Pocky for S$5 at another place 2 days ago!!! So, in order to make up for our losses, we bought even more to balance out the imbalance.
Other things on Day 4:
Visited the Di Tan (opposite of Tian Tan, when there’s heaven, there’s earth). Definitely not as many tourists, as this was not an official tourist spot. Inside the Di Tan was an Ice Palace, where everything was made of……ice. A really good weather compared to the ridiculous 38+ degrees outside.
Had some free-and-easy time. Ate some Hawaiian pizza and milk pearl tea, which tasted mostly of milk and nothing else.
After that, went for a foot massage which was located in the Beijing Olympic Village. They have trained about 6000 masseurs to date (incredible!) and bought some products for my sweaty palms/hands.
Went to visit a Fengshui Master, Master Sun, who gives professional geomancy advice to the IR that’s going to be built here. He is really psychic, he knows what medical history my family members had, he knows my problems my parents face, he knows A LOT. And we were so convinced we decided to buy his ‘pi xiu’ (some lucky charm that resembles a dragon/fish/snake).
This trip slowly becomes more of a health/spiritual trip. Spent a lot of money on health products haha. Better than splurging money on imitation products (Adidas, Puma, Nike, Quiksilver, iPod Nano which costs only S$40).
Shopping again…bought iPod speakers at $5 HAHA. Been longing to have these, so that I can play some of my music without having to connect it to my laptop.
Took a 5-hour long bus ride to Chengde, so did some Sudoku puzzles, read some magazines, and ATTEMPTED doing some of my homework, but in vain,
Before this, visited an underground tunnel that connects almost the whole of Beijing. It led us to an underground shopping arcade, and there was a silk making demonstration, as well as the sale of silk products. Took a pathetic Peking Duck for lunch.
For dinner at Chengde, had some sweet potato thing which tasted really nice. After that, when to Jin Jiang Hotel. Watched this Chinese singing competition, which had familiar bitchy judges. The show lasted almost 3 hours, but the format was really good. There was this female contestant, He Wen Juan, who sings really well, and looks very non-China-looking. She was criticized for not dancing, which was her strength. THANK GOD she broke her hip bone, as she initially wanted to sing ‘Hollaback Girl’.
I almost rolled down my bed.
You can say I wasted a day here, because there was nothing much worth mentioning other than shopping and another main attraction….
Mr Jade Master.
His voice was missing an Adam’s Apple, and if you managed to not laugh within the first minute of his appearance, I say you’re good.
But Mr Jade Master was such a good salesman (He owns the Jade company there, and he also has a small stake in SK Jewelry), he convinced my dad to buy this jade necklace which cost about 47000 yuan at a very low offer. Some pro.
Home sweet home……did some last minute shopping in the morning.
Some 'emo' pictures and funny photos!
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