Welcome back to this week’s presentation on Travel in China. In our previous sections we discussed the various regions and cuisine you can find in China, and I hope that this was of some use to you, especially if you were planning a trip to the country. This week, we’re going to take a short break from the grand scale of things, at take a quick look at one’s of China’s most popular cities; Beijing. So let’s begin this week’s exposé, “Being in Beijing “
1: “Food in Beijing”: Travel in China is usually synonymous embarking upon an exotic journey of rare and fantastic foods. This indeed is a very accurate statement, and is summed up no more than by the Wang Fu Jing food street of Beijing. Wangfujing, offers some of the most exotic and sometimes unimaginable foods and preparations techniques ever created. Dishes ranging from barbecued scorpion, to roasted dog, to sautéed sea-snails, if you want it you can definitely find it. However, a word to the wise, if you are of a weak constitution or have various qualms about what should or should not be eaten, then I recommend that you pass Wangfujing by. However, if you wish to take your first timid steps on an expedition of culinary expansion, then I say have at it. Take your open mind and empty stomach to have it filled with cuisine you can only find in Wangfujing.
2: “Shopping” in Beijing: China is famed for it’s shopping. The size of the malls and the variety offered make it very difficult to go into a mall and come out empty handed. Even as you walk through those transparent glass doors and feel the invigorating chill of A/C blasted from units on high, you know that regardless of what plans you had about saving or just buying a “few small things,” you’ve lost the fight. However, Malls are by their very nature, one of a large, sprawling megastructure of national and international brands, which means that regardless of whether you are in Beijing or Shanghai, if you’ve been in one mall, you really been in them all. We are faced with a dilemma. How do we get that, “Authentic” Beijing shopping experience? How, you ask? Turn to the markets. As mentioned before, Markets are famed for their vast merchandise and, more importantly, for bargaining. No Beijing market captures this “essence” more so than the “Silk Market”. Easily the largest market in Beijing, the Silk Market or Silk Street, is a large multi-floor shopping complex filled with every form of merchandise imaginable, ranging from luggage, to electronics, to clothes, shoes, jewellery, accessories, silk items and the list goes on. Filled with stores upon stores which are in turned filled with sales assistants who DO NOT take no for an answer, one shopping trip to Silk Street is sure to last you a lifetime. Bargaining is a must here, as ALL prices usually begin and 10 to 20 times the true price of the item. However, don’t be alarmed if transactions fail the first time around, because they are hundreds of another sales people selling the exact same item that you want. Have fun, and politely battle it out for the price you want because, and this is paramount, the sales people of Silk Street as with many other markets, NEVER make a loss. Whatever price you pay for ANYTHING is always more that what the salesperson bought it for IN BULK #chinaistheworldsbiggestproducer. With that in mind, go, let loose and happy hunting!
3: “Sight-seeing in Beijing”: Beijing is famed as being one of the most ancient cities of one of the world’s longest existing civilisations. History is the lifeblood, which has pulsed through the veins of this city for generations, dating back to the Ming dynasty. There is no lack of culture or beauty here therefore, making it easily a wonderful introduction into China. Modern day Beijing is a working combination of an appreciation of history with modernity which has created a perfect juxtaposition of the two. In term’s of history and ancient culture, Beijing is of course the gate way to the Great Wall of China, which is separated into four different tourist sites which come under the jurisdiction of the city. These four sites of the Great wall are: Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Juxiaoguan and each have their own unique characteristics.
Apart from The Great Wall, there is also: The Forbidden City and the Palace Museum, The Summer Palace, The Lama Temple, The White Cloud Temple, The Temple of Heaven, The Botanical Gardens and the highest mountain in Beijing, Xiang Mountain. However, if you want of enjoy the modernity which Beijing has to offer, then the Bird’s Nest, Water Cube, CCTV Tower and the CBD of the City await you.
Finally, the City also offers easy access to many museums and galleries, and one which is especially worthy of note is the Military Museum of Beijing.
4: “Night-life” in Beijing: Nightlife in Beijing is varied and all encompassing. Usually, if you want to find something to do at night, regardless of what it is, you usually can. However, expat oriented night-life usually is focused around one of three areas. These include; Salitun, Houhai and Wudaokou. Salitun and Houhai offer a very diverse night life experience which sees people of all ages joining the fray. Whether your fix is a raging rave club or sipping cocktails in a laid back jazz lounge you can usually find it in Salitun or Houhai. Houhai,is especially popular among couples seeking romance because it is interlocked by a well maintained system of canals, upon which gondolas transverse and offer candlelit passage. Wudaokou, located in the University district of Beijing is most popular among young people and university students, usually because of relatively affordable pricing and easily accessible locations.