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Sunday, 10 January 2016

My Winter Vacation Part 1 - One Night In Beijing


Prologue:


I freaking love visiting China.  Fortunately my hubby sees beauty in China too, else the both of us can fight until no tomorrow, waahaaahaa...

One fellow in my Facebook asked me: "What's safe to eat in China?"  He thought he was so smart by being sarcastic, but that question already revealed him as a frog in the well.  Being countrist is worst than being racist, no matter how educated he is.

China people are humans too, just like you and me, they treasure their lives too.  Some negative and horrifying reports on social media are scary while many are fabricated and magnified; we need to use our brains to filter them.  Every country is made up of people and when it comes to human beings, nobody is perfect.  Singaporean's well loved Taiwan had toxic bubble tea, seemed atas France had wicked farming of foie gras (banning slowly), and from what I know Japan is still holding onto their whale killing festival.  But aside from these, these countries are beautiful in their own way, and Singapore being just a little red dot has a lot to learn from them too.

Do not find flaws of others to gloat and despise upon, be humble and appreciative.

Rant completed.

After pondering between XiAn (西安) and Harbin (哈尔滨 ), we decided on the later.  We wanted to travel at ease safely without having to vex over transport, so we signed a package with Chan Brothers during Aug 2015.
No cheap deal, we only gotten goodies bags.

My coldest experience was -12°C, but Harbin's harsh winter plunged as low as -30°C.   I was worried despite of reading up.  Nothing beats going through and experiencing myself!  Now I know how to take care of my camera, skin, makeup including fake lashes and what attire is suitable.  Gonna share good tips of course!  Scroll on  ^.^


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Destination: China - Harbin (哈尔滨),Yabuli(亚布力),Snow Village (双峰林场又雪乡)

Duration: 23 - 30 Dec 2015 (8 days)

Mode of travel: Package with Chan Brothers Travel

Flight: Air China  (via Beijing)

Damage: S$1,878/pax, Tour Guide Tip: RMB200  Local Guide Tip: S$16, other compulsory/optional tours: RMB1,420 (slit throat + heart bleed)

Currency: RMB (we rough divide by 4.5 to convert to S$)

Time Difference:  Same as Singapore

Weather: -22 to -30°C


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22.12.2015



Though the travel date was 23rd, we headed to the airport on 22nd evening as we were catching a mid night flight.
Yup, I went with a sprained wrist but no biggie.

We had dinner at Aston.

Then spend the rest of the time admiring and enjoying our beautiful Changi Airport till pass mid night.
Also shopped a lot, bought 2 StarWars plush toys, also redeemed a gift for being a Changi Rewards card member.


23.12.2015



Fly...
Air China
Only 2 options for supper, hubby and I ordered different sets:


Fried rice was good, the fried udon was even better.

After eating, I snoozed all the way and woke up by the announcement that the plane would land at Shanghai due to low visibility in Beijing.  I thought we could leave the plane to stretch ourselves at Shanghai airport.  But nope we were kept in the plane for about 1.5hrs before taking off to Beijing.
-____-|||  Biscuits and beverages were distributed as breakfast.

By the time we reached Beijing, we missed our connection flight to Harbin and there's no more flight till the next day.
Beijing airport
Not sure about others but I wasn't upset, can claim insurance and I was already planning to enjoy a day in Beijing.

We were staying One Night In Beijing!

Air China arranged a lousy accommodation in this hotel which was less than 15 minutes' drive away from the airport.
It's a cramp room without windows and pricky carpet, never mind 1 night only.

Had a hard time looking for our room as the room numbers are not in sequence, making us laughing and frowning at the same time.

Buffet lunch was provided, but when we reached the hotel's restaurant, only a few pieces of meat and a few strands of veg were left over, beverages were all wiped out, seriously.   It was only slightly pass 1pm.  I was all ready to head out to feast and play when hubby ate whatever was left and went back to nap as he was sleepless during the flight.

Merely 2 hours of nap was a great loss cos by the time he woke up at 4pm, all museums and parks were already closing -_____-|||   Going to The Summer Palace (颐和园)was not possible already.

Options became limited.  Never mind, must rock the night.  It's the one and only day wearing red lipstick, the rest of the trip my mouth was always covered with mask >.<

Planned to re-visit the Hutong alleys which operates till night, only to realise that they were many such alleys in Beijing.  We had a hard time explaining where we wanted to go, at the end the cab bought us to a different place.

It was a blessing in disguise, we had fun!

We found ourselves at The Lotus Market after 1hr's drive.
Guess what?!!  This place is located at Di'anmen (地安门), which the song One Night In Beijing sang about.  Go Youtube and listen to the song again!

The first shop at the entrance of The Lotus Market is.....
STARBUCKS in oriental style <3 <3

Felt like Clarke Quay here, except that it's -4°here.  I love the feel of this familiar coldness.
  I was comfortable wearing a long sleeve-T, wool sweater, thermal pants with summer jeggings over a wool coat.  The one and only OOTD pic taken at this spot was blurred -___-|||   His fault.

Red lanterns and Christmas trees, we were at the so called Tea & Bar Street (茶艺酒吧街).

Some stalls selling street food...


Surprisingly, there were many muslim eateries selling mutton steamboats.  We actually had a hard time finding a non-muslim one lolxx...

We popped into this for dinner.
Didn't look impressive but we were hungry and were too lazy to walk back to the restaurants we saw earlier.

Food we ordered were decent but nothing in particular to rave about:

Beijing Minced Pork Noodle RMB20

Cold cucumber RMB20

Mutton Skewer RMB6 each
BBQ Mid Wings RMB10 for 2pcs
Fish Paste with Tofu Skewer RMB10

Stir Fried Pig Intestine RMB58

Mutton skewer was very much like our mutton satay in XL size.
We ate slowly while listening to awesome singing from one of the pubs.  Won't be surprise if some talents of 中国好声音 are found here.

Some buildings were really ancient, while some, I could see some were newly build or perhaps massively renovated.  There were numerous pubs here, brightly light up inside out.  Each pub had a singer and live band within which could be heard loud and clear from the outside.

If you watched My Dear Princess (还珠格格), you'll know where the name of this pub came from ^.^

Ying Ding Bridge (银锭桥)

We unknowingly "confined" ourselves around the lower part of the river QianHai (前海).    The middle part is called HouHai (后海) and the top most is called XiHai (西海).  No idea why they are called Hai which means "Sea" when they are rivers, lolxx...
It was hard to explore as some streets had very little street lights and seemed quiet.  I studied the map only when I was drafting this post and realized that there are a few attractions around along this river.  One of which is the former residence of Soon Ching Ling (宋庆龄), Sun Yat-Sun's second wife also an active politician.  It's really a pity to miss it.

The row of alley behind the pubs were quieter.  Without distractions of those colorful light bulbs, it's easier to appreciate the beauty of the old houses.



The shop name caught our attention.
We inhaled as hard as possible, didn't smell a thing.  But nevertheless, we gave their smelly tofu a try.

Smelly Tofu RMB10.
Pipping hot fried tofu cubes with sweet sour sauce.  It was a great relieve to me that it taste like normal tofu without smell, hubby was a bit disappointed though, heehee....  Nevertheless it was still very enjoyable in such cold weather.

Spotted a doggie with pink dyed ears, it was so active running about and this was the best pic I could capture.

We weren't hungry, but if we don't eat, we really have no chance liao.


烤牛肉窝窝 RMB15
BBQ Beef slices on "hives" which softens upon heat from the meat into something like our chee chiong fun.

My sir sitting at the door munching, but decided to squat after a while due to butt chill.
Imagine the both of us, squatting here, eating like nobody's business lolxx....

Bought Baymax thermal flask at RMB29.90, good deal.

Bought snow cream (上海女人雪花膏)  3 pcs set RMB69
The sales girl was sobbing over the phone, saying she was going quit, I was like -__-|||  So I bought quickly and left quickly >.<  The vintage packaging is really attractive to me.  The snow cream is non-oily, non-sticky, lovely flora scented, better than Hazeline Snow!  I searched in Taobao and it's only RMB24!!

I haven't get enough of Beijing.  It's filled with China's rich history which I wanted to know and learn about so much.  I hope to make another free and easy trip if I can save up enough money.

If you are interested to read about my previous trip to Beijing, click HERE.

Cab fare back to the hotel was about RMB100, almost the same from the hotel.

Part 2 would be about Harbin, about how we froze and defrost ourselves ^.^




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