Tuesday, September 11, 2012

China Trip Day 1 : Beijing

Itinerary : Temple of Heaven – Tiananmen Square – Forbidden City – Wangfujing pedestrian street

Just in case my hotel didn’t have Beijing subway map, I had printed the map before my departure. And yes, the hotel didn’t have it., so lucky me had prepared it from home. I use this map. It might changes from time to time. Subway rate in Beijing is RMB 2. No matter how far you travel or how many transits you have, they only charge you RMB 2. Very cheap. There is security check in every entrance of the MRT station. Every bag has to be X-Ray scanned, just like the one at the airports. For further information about Beijing transportation refer to this website.

To travel with subway you can buy one way ticket at the MRT station or you can apply for smart card Yi Ka Tong (read as Yi Ga Thong). Yi Ka Tong can be used in subway, airport express, city bus and long distance bus. It will cost cheaper if you use Yi Ka Tong on long distance bus than buy single ticket on board. The card cost RMB 20 and you can refund it. When you buy the card, the officer will ask you to deposit another RMB 20 for the balance. For the top up you can add at least RMB 10 each time. I tried to explain so many times to some officers that I want to buy Yi Ka Tong but they didn't understand and none of them speak English. At last, I wrote "一卡通" on a peace of paper and showed it to the officer, finally they understood. So if you have plan to buy the card and you don't speak Chinese or speak little Chinese with different dialect, you better write Chinese words on a paper, it's easier way to communicate with people there. Yi Ka Tong can only be purchased, top up and refund in certain stations. For further information refer to this site : this website.

People in China can't or don't like or whatever u call it, they don't queue. They like to cut the queue. When an MRT arrived for example, if you arrived late then you should queue behind the people who already there first right? That didn't happen. People who arrived late stand at the front of the queue. The same thing happen in the MRT ticket booth. What about when you want to board on MRT?  The right thing to do is wait till the people inside get off then we board right? But they don't do that. They keep pushing to board the MRT before the people get off, while the people inside try to make their way off the MRT, so it was always about pushing. There was really nothing we could do about it. There were some officers in the station screamed to warn them, they just didn't care. I pissed of so often due to their habit. I couldn't nag in Chinese so I nagged in Indonesian instead. I knew they didn't understand what I said, I didn't care. I needed to let my emotion out.

How to go to Temple of Heaven : From Wangfujing Station take line 1 (red line) and get off at Dongdan Station then transit to line 5 (light green line) and get off at Tiantandongmen Station

There are several exits in every MRT station in Beijing. Don’t be confused, there are list of places in every exit in the direction boards available in the station and they’re in English. When you get off at Tiantandongmen Station, go to exit A and walk to Temple of Heaven entrance and you’ll find the east gate of the park. If you confuse where to go, just follow a crowd of people from exit A. This place is always crowded every day. If you can’t find the place and need to ask for direction, just ask the direction to Tian Tan (read as Thien Than).

When you reached the entrance, there’s a ticket booth outside. Queue there to buy your entrance ticket. I suggest buy a combination ticket because this place consists of some attraction place. If you buy the entrance ticket only, you’ll need to buy the ticket to each place inside and it will cost more expensive. Since this place is huge, you might need a map. I had printed the map from internet before. I didn’t notice any map at the ticket booth. I got there at about 10 am and the place was packed with both domestic and foreign tourists. I use this map.

It was a really hot day. The sun was shining really bright. I decided to walk along the Seventy-two long corridors to avoid the sunlight. Along the corridor, there were a lot of local young and old people who gathered there to play card, Mahjong, dancing and some other Chinese traditional game that I didn’t recognize. I don’t know is that place really their hang out place or they are paid for tourist attraction. 

Seventy-two long corridors
People gathered to play

In the park itself, there were some groups of people dancing, playing accordion, singing, playing with some kind of long ribbon that usually used in rhythmic gymnastics. 

The Seventy-two long corridors end up at Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest entrance. This is one of the famous attraction in Beijing. If you search for Temple of Heaven in the internet, the pictures of this building will come out. Just like the rest of the area, this section was also pack with people. I found a place behind the building that was much less crowded than the front and took picture there.

It wasn’t allowed to enter inside the temple. People were only allowed to take picture from outside. There was a guide explaining about the temple by the door but I didn’t understand because she spoke in Chinese. At the yard there is a building that display the history of Temple of Heaven. From the temple, we walked along the Imperial Walkway Bridge to the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mount Altar

Imperial Walkway Bridge
Imperial Vault of Heaven
Circular Mount Altar
From Circular Mount Altar we went to Palace of Abstinence but it was close. I don’t know is that place ever open or not because in that section there was almost no people. The place was very quite. From there we walked to Flower garden, Spray fountain and Rose garden. There was nothing much in the last 4 places and it was so quite. Only a small bunch of people were there. The main crowd was in the first 3 attraction places and those places are the ones that required a ticket to enter.

The way to Palace of Abstinence
 It was about 12.30 pm when we left Temple of Heaven. Right across the street of MRT station exit A, we found KFC and decided to had lunch there. I had burger my mom doesn’t like burger. KFC in Indonesia have a package of fried chicken and rice but not in other countries, I know, and apparently not in China either. I wanted to buy a package of fried chicken and buy the rice separately but it wasn’t allowed. They say they didn’t sell rice only. So I ordered a package of meal that have rice but it was a modified one. My burger was good, just like what I had in other countries, but my mom said the rice package tastes horrible. One more thing, they don’t have chili sauce, only tomato sauce available. For us Indonesian, that’s bad. We get used to eat spicy foods and that includes fast foods.

KFC rice set
 How to go to Tiananmen Square : From Tiantandongmen Station take line 5 (light green line) to Dongdan Station and transit to line 1 (red line) and get off at Tiananmen East Station.

There is nothing much at Tiananmen Square. Mao mausoleum placed there but it is closed on Monday. 

Park at Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
 Tiananmen is located at right across Tiananmen Square. To reach there, you have to use the underground passage to cross the road.

Underground passage
Forbidden City is located behind Tiananmen. Keep walking inside and see at your left, there’s a ticket booth. The map is sold there too for RMB 10. There were many people sell mineral water and old Beijing ice. Mineral water inside is cheaper than the outside. Outside one costs RMB 5 while inside costs RMB 2. Old Beijing ice costs RMB 1 and it appears to be a sweet ice made of mineral water. I can say it’s like a big sweet ice cube. Unlike Temple of Heaven which has trees around it, Forbidden City is barren. Everywhere you look, there are only concrete. We went inside Forbidden City only until Hall of Supreme Harmony then we headed back to the hotel.

Forbidden City
Gold stream
Beijing have no beach. For who wants to get tanned, all you have to do is visit Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City in a hot day when the sun is shining brightly and there you go, you get a brown skin rightaway. Well, I did.

How to go to Wangfujing Pedestrian Street : From Tiananmen East Station take line 1 (red line) and get off at Wangfujing Station, exit from exit A via Royal Plaza. You'll find escalator right at the front of the gate. Go up for 2 floors then turn left and you'll find Royal Plaza exit. Exit from Royal Plaza, turn right and keep walking to intersection. Right across the street is Wangfujing Pedestrian Street.

Late at night we went to Wangfujing Pedestrian Street which is only 2 minutes walk from our hotel. Vehicles are allowed to pass this road at the morning till afternoon. At late afternoon until night, this road is closed for pedestrian only. The left and right side of the street are shops and malls that sells branded things. I think it’s similar to Orchard Road in Singapore but the place is not as big as Orchard.

We went to snack street. It was packed with tourists and local people. Various snacks sold in that place. I tried Gao Ru Quan (BBQ beef), Chou To Fu (stink tofu) and some others that I forget the name. I don’t really like the snacks in Beijing. Korean, Thailand, Singapore street snacks are waaayy better for me. Besides snacks, there are souvenirs stall and shops available.

BBQ meat
Fried bugs
Pear drink
We had dinner at an old Beijing food stall. We decided to try the fried beef noodle. It was served on hot plate.

Old Beijing food stall
Fried beef noodle
Mini opera show at the end of the alley
The food price in Wangfujing is really expensive! In my next post I’ll share where to find cheap food in Beijing. The taste of foods in Beijing is not suit my taste. They are mostly salty and oily while the soup are usually bland. A friend told me that there is no sweet soy bean sauce there. The sweet taste is usually come from sugar. She also told me that the food in northern China taste not good. The southern part have more delicious foods. Even me, who is said to be an “omnivore” by people around me, I had a hard time dealing with Beijing foods.

Temple of Heaven combination ticket – RMB 35
KFC burger set – RMB 22
KFC rice set – RMB 15
Forbidden City entrance ticket – RMB 60
Qao Ru Quan – RMB 5
Chou To Fu – RMB 10
Pear drink – RMB 5
Fried beef noodle – RMB 28


Arnold Haskins said...

Those are just amazing place to go to. It all looks so magical.
study in china

LnB's said...

Enjoy reading your blog. Very informative and detail. Thanks for aharing..

LnB's said...

Thanks for sharing ;)

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