Without a doubt the most important date on the Chinese calender – the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Spring Festival. This year it falls on February 3. Most all workers will get 7 days off work and head home for celebrations and reunion with family.
This was my second trip on a train in China and again it’s an overnight train with the trip taking just over 10 hours. I would be travelling on the D305 which leaves Beijing South station an 9.40PM and arrives in Shanghai at 7.52AM.
It started from the minute I walked out of the Beijing train station, as soon as my foreigner’s face was hit by the Beijing sunshine or lack of, there was someone hustling for access to my wallet. ‘Hellooo, taxi…taxi, sir’. where do you want to go?’ said the suspiciously casually dressed man hoping to snag an overpriced fare.
The Lama Temple in Beijing is a functioning lamasery for Tibetan and Mongolian monks practicing Tibetan Buddhism. It’s open to visitors, and is a very popular tourist attraction featuring well preserved ancient architecture and artifacts, along with friendly monks roaming the grounds!
This was my first trip to the Badaling section of the Great Wall and went with a tour group and I’m going to tell you why that’s a really bad idea from the first-hand experience. After that, I tell you what you should really do.
The Ming Tombs in Beijing is a massive area featuring mausoleums for 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty Emperors, also buried at the site are empresses and concubines of the era. Only a couple of the tombs have been excavated, many are still sealed awaiting the progress of technology to provide a means of preserving everything that is inside once they open the tomb.
The Summer Palace is an imperial garden built by Emperor Qianlong in 1750 to celebrate his mothers birthday, it was later used as a garden where emperors and empresses would escape the heat of Beijing’s summers.
Tian’anmen Square has had its moments in history, but in front of me today I see a massive public space, full of people enjoying themselves in what is the heart of Beijing.
The Forbidden City was once the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and was originally constructed in early 1400’s. The city was once off-limits to the general public and home to 24 successive emperors. Now, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world attracting over 7 million visitors a year.
Beihai Park in Beijing is over 1000 years old and covers an area of 690,000 square meters featuring a large peaceful lake, ancient temples, and an islet featuring a 36m high Buddhist shrine in the form of a Tibetan Dagoba.
After nearly one month on the road things had started to catch up with me, I was tired. Apart from being on your feet 12 hours a day, walking up things, down things, getting lost then more lost, there’s also the mental load as you never stop thinking. Even simple tasks become complex in country where you don’t speak the language.
Jingshan Park in Beijing is located in front of the north gate of the Forbidden City and is well worth a visit if only for the view of the city that it offers.
Sanlitun Village Beijing is a recently built sleek shopping complex packed with luxury brand names. I didn’t spend too long here as I was more interested in the Ya Show Clothing Market which is just next door.
Well known and well visited by tourists, the Silk Market is seven floors of clothing, shoes, bags, fashion accessories, leather goods, traditional Chinese crafts, calligraphy, carpets, home fabrics, paintings, hand-knitted dresses, toys, trinkets and souvenirs, fine jewelry and more. There are also plenty of custom tailors for suits etc.etc. Most stall operators speak English.
UPDATE: this market is no longer
Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market is five floors of clothing and fashion (notice its name can sometimes be translated as Ya Show or Yashou or even Yaxui!). Including men’s and women’s clothes, suits, women’s bags, luggage bags, leather goods, shoes and more. It’s located right next door to Sanlitun Village, a new and ultra-modern shopping complex featuring many big brand name stores.
Wangfujing Street is one of the largest and most well-known shopping streets in Beijing. Featuring a mix of large modern department stores, luxury brand name outlets, small retail shops, and markets. What’s interesting is that this has been an active commercial street for over 700 years!
There is no shortage of places to go shopping in Beijing, if that’s what you’re into, you can find markets, retail department stores, mega-malls and the quirky side streets packed with all sorts of odd goods.
The first thing that struck me about the Redwall Hotel was the incredible service provided by the concierge team. As soon as I put my foot on the steps of the hotel there was someone bounding out the front door to help with my luggage and escort me to the reception to check in.
My first time on a train in China was on the overnight trip from Xian to Beijing. China has many different classes of train and this one was the ‘Z’ train. This Z train (the Z20) was no old rattler, it was near new modern, clean and very comfortable train!