Shopping Mall Heaven in Xidan!

On September 29, 2011, in Beijing, Modern Architecture, Shopping, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

Anyone with a love for shopping will love a China Travel adventure. Whether you travel to Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere, you will find plenty of markets, malls and department stores to keep you busy, and help to part you with your money! This blog will discuss the area of Xidan, which is not commonly top […]

Anyone with a love for shopping will love a China Travel adventure. Whether you travel to Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere, you will find plenty of markets, malls and department stores to keep you busy, and help to part you with your money! This blog will discuss the area of Xidan, which is not commonly top of the list for the average tourist to visit, but shopping central for students, expats and the general public in Beijing!

 

You can get to Xidan on subway line 1, the Xidan stop is just past Tiananmen and you will exit right into the heart of the shopping district. Line 4 also stops here aswell. When you leave the subway you will find yourself at the beginning of Xidan Commercial Street, which is a three and a half mile long commercial centre, with malls and department stores propped up side by side.

 

Opening times are generally 10am til 10pm, with some stores opening at 9 or 9.30am. Generally malls have a fast food style food court on the lower floor, and a more upmarket restaurant food court on the upper floor. However in the bigger malls restaurants are interspersed with shops, cafe’s and stalls.

 

The Top Malls to check out in Xidan:


Joy City

This is the mother of all malls in Xidan, with thirteen floors packed with fashion, cosmetics, home ware and everything else inbetween. Joy City features the largest cosmetic store in Beijing, the largest cinema in China and the largest escalator in the world. It has a huge variety of shops and restaurants with a mix of Chinese, international and high end stores.

 

Grand Pacific Mall

Grand Pacific is less flashy and a fair bit older than Joy City (it opened in 2003), however it is still a big mall with a large selection, particularly if you are looking for denim products. The mall hosts many big denim brands including Miss Sixty, Replay and Diesel.

 

Xidan Shopping Centre

Xidan mall is a large (and again fairly ageing) mall, with an interesting market on the ground floor selling Chinese food, snack and candy items. These would be ideal for gifts to take back home, as there is a huge variety and prices are very reasonable with no need to haggle! Stores here are arranged by category, so there is are floors for ladies fashion, another for accessories, one for electronics – and so on. The top floor features a food court with many cheap dining options.

The upper floors of the mall are filled with tiny stalls, similar to the markets, selling all sorts of items, mostly fashion and accessories. Come here prepared to haggle, as although prices won’t start as high as the Silk Market, being a westerner you may still be subject to price inflation.

 

If you manage to see all of these and are still not ready to head back to your Beijing Hotel with your bags, then there are still many more shopping options. There are plenty of high end shops and department stores including Xidan CVIK Store, Chung You Department Store, Xidan Department Store and The Parkson Building.

A Mini Guide to Street Food Delights in Beijing!

On September 27, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When planning your China Travel trip it is worth researching the varieties of local food available to see what dishes and cooking styles appeal to you. For adventurous eaters or those on a strict budget planning to travel to Beijing, you should definitely check out the variety of street food available within the city.   […]

When planning your China Travel trip it is worth researching the varieties of local food available to see what dishes and cooking styles appeal to you. For adventurous eaters or those on a strict budget planning to travel to Beijing, you should definitely check out the variety of street food available within the city.

 

There is quite a variety of street food available, although some items may only be for sale during certain months of the year, or at certain times of the day. This ranges from breakfast items, drinks, desserts and main meals. Those looking to find the more exotic offerings should check to one of the Night Markets in Wangfujing (however, even though called ‘night’ markets, they do tend to close up around 10pm).

 

Some types of Street Food on offer in Beijing:

Chuan’r (Meat Kebabs)

These are skewers of barbecued meat with spices. They are available in beef, pork and chicken amongst others with the most popular being lamb. Chuan’r originate from Xinjiang in the west. They are often found at night markets as well as down side streets and roads around the city, although less often in the direct centre.

Xianer Bing

This is a savoury pancake, stuffed with various fillings. The most popular is minced beef or pork, but there are vegetable versions on offer.

Noodles

A safe bet for even the pickiest eaters, noodle stands are available across Beijing. Most commonly found at the night markets, outside hotels and by metro stations. These can be found with meat and/or vegetables added, and there are usually varying spice levels.

Ice Cream

Various flavours of ice cream can be found throughout the city, locations are all over the place, including inside the Silk Market. It is recommended to visit a stall that is nice and busy to ensure a good quality result!

Jiaozi and Baozi

These street snacks, more commonly known in the west are filled dumplings. The name differs with the method used to cook them and flour used. The standard filling is pork, but other meat alongside seafood and vegetarian fillings are common.

Jian Bing

A common, filling breakfast item with a very low price tag. Jian Bing is a pancake filled with egg, cilantro and onion, spread with a fine layer of bean paste and fried dough before being wrapped up. There are usually other ingredients available, although it may take some good hand gesturing skills to get what you want. These are often seen each morning outside hotels, residential areas and office buildings.

Grilled Vegetable/Meat Skewers

These are usually available all year round, well into the small hours of the evening. Popular varieties include skewers of mixed vegetables, grilled corn, chicken wings and potato slices. Often seen in the nightlife districts of Sanlitun.

Fresh and dried fruit

Same as the skewers of meat and vegetables,  fruit is easy to find in the city alongside sellers at tourist sights such as The Great Wall. It is very cheap for a nicely sized portion, and you can usually mix varities of fruit together. Plenty of selection at night markets and around Sanlitun area. Take care with all fresh fruit as it is recommended to rinse with bottled water before eating.

Hongshu

Hongshu are sweet potatoes baked in their skins, commonly seen around mid afternoon. These are often found in side streets and around hutongs, and are also available at Olympic Park, just outside of the square.

Caramelised fruit skewers

These are popular throughout the city and come in many flavours including strawberry, kiwi and apple. Similar to toffee apples seen at home around halloween, these sugary delights are found all over, with a large selection at Wangfujing night markets and Tianan’men Square.

 

In addition to these there are many other foods available to sample throughout the city. Similar street food is available throughout China, so if you are planning to travel to Shanghai or another Chinese city you will find more options there, probably differing slightly for local tastes.

Veggie Heaven in Beijing!

On September 26, 2011, in Beijing, Restaurants, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When considering China as a potential holiday destination, it is often confusing for those with specific dietary requirements to understand what food options will be available for them once they arrive. If you plan to travel to Beijing this article will hopefully give you a bit more information on Vegetarian and Vegan options. There are […]

When considering China as a potential holiday destination, it is often confusing for those with specific dietary requirements to understand what food options will be available for them once they arrive. If you plan to travel to Beijing this article will hopefully give you a bit more information on Vegetarian and Vegan options. There are a decent amount of restaurants available within the city and most Beijing hotels, alongside fast food and western restaurants will also have guaranteed meat free dishes on the menu for Vegetarians.

 

For a larger selection you could head to a pure Vegetarian restaurant. There are a variety of such places available and you will find a high concentration in the area surrounding the Lama Temple. It is not unusual for monks and tourists to dine in these places at the same time which makes for an interesting experience.

 

A popular place and well worth a visit is ‘Xu Xiang Zhai‘. This restaurant is nearby the Lama Temple and directly opposite Conficus Temple, with the nearest subway being Yonghegong on line 5. The establishment offers a buffet starting at 5.30pm, and a large menu which is available all day. It is quite a serene atmosphere, upon walking in you feel as though you are entering a spa complete with fish swimming around in pools. It is one of the most reasonably priced Vegetarian restaurants with the buffet costing around £6, which includes drinks and desserts. This consists of Chinese and Western dishes alongside some unusual and interesting creations.

 

Those with a larger budget may consider ‘Pure Lotus Vegetarian‘. This restaurant has two locations in the Chaoyang district and has fairly western prices, with a meal costing between £12 and £20 per head. Similarly to Xu Xiang Zhai it offers Vegetarian dishes alongside mock meat imitations, including Veggie versions of Peking Duck, Kung Pao Chicken and Kobe Beef. Other purely Vegetarian restaurants worth a look are Lotus in Moonlight, Tianchu Miaoxiang, Fairy Su and Beijing Vegan Hut.

 

In addition to the specific Vegetarian places, many Chinese dishes such as stir fries, noodles and hot pots have Vegetarian varieties, and tofu is a popular ingredient replacing meat in many dishes. The only issue to be aware of is sometimes these dishes may be cooked in animal fat, seasoned with fish sauce or accompanied with meat toppings so it is best to bring a phrase book or download an English to Chinese dictionary application on your phone so you can effectively communicate with the waitress.

 

Some key phrases to learn before your trip which will come in very useful are:

I dont eat meat - Wǒ bùchī ròu

I am vegetarian – Wǒ sù shí zhě

I am Vegan -Wǒ chún sù shí zhě

Do you have Vegetarian food? – Yǒuméiyǒu sù shí zhě

I am on a special diet – Wǒ zài jiéshí

I am allergic to (insert food) - Wǒ duì (insert food) guòmǐn

Could you make a meal without (insert food)? – Néngbùnéng zuòyīge bùfang (insert food) de cài?

fish – yú

eggs - jīdàn

poultry - jiāqín

red meat – niúyángròu

gluten - miànjīn

seafood – hǎixiān

shellfish – bèiké

peanuts – huāshēng

meat – ròu

pork – zhūròu

beef – niúròu

(note these phrases can be incomprehensible or mean something else entirely if pronounced incorrectly, so it may be worth downloading an application for your mobile phone with an Audio component to become familiar with the pronunciation.)

 

Another possible option to consider would be sampling the varieties of street food in Beijing, as there are many vegetarian snacks and meals, including baked sweet potatoes, savoury pancakes, fresh fruit and grilled vegetables on sticks. Additionally it may be worth heading for a large supermarket like Carrefour or Wal Mart if you have self catering facilities, as they have a large selection of both western and Chinese foods to create meals from. These are some of the bigger hypermarkets but there are plenty of small to medium supermarkets and stores located near most Beijing Hotels.

 

National Museum of China

On September 23, 2011, in Activities, Beijing, Cultural Experience, Museums, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

Located on the east side of Tian’anmen Square in downtown Beijing, the National Museum of China was founded in February 2003 after merging with the former National Museum of Chinese History and the National Museum of Chinese Revolution. History and art are two factors emphasized in the collections and is also a terrific place for […]

Located on the east side of Tian’anmen Square in downtown Beijing, the National Museum of China was founded in February 2003 after merging with the former National Museum of Chinese History and the National Museum of Chinese Revolution. History and art are two factors emphasized in the collections and is also a terrific place for school trips and as a tourist attraction.

The predecessor of the National Museum of Chinese History is the Preparatory Office of the National Museum of History which was founded on July 9th, 1912. It was renamed the Beijing Museum of History after October 1st, 1949 when People’s Republic of China was founded. After a decade, it was renamed the National Museum of Chinese History. The predecessor of the National Museum of Chinese Revolution was the Preparatory Office of the National Museum of Revolution founded in March, 1950 and renamed ten years later.

In August, 1959, the new buildings on the east side of the Tian’anmen Square were constructed. The museum was regarded one of the “Top Ten Great Constructions” for celebrating the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The two museums opened to the public on that October 1st .The aims of the National Museum of China are to protect Chinese cultural heritage, display a long-standing history, provide education on history and culture to the public, especially for the younger generation and promote cultural exchange and communication with other countries and regions. It is not also a museum and a perfect place for further study of culture, history and art.

After the expansion of 2010, the National Museum of China became the largest museum in the world with an area of 191,900 square meters. There are over 1 million collections in 49 galleries. Ancient China and The Road of Rejuvenation are two permanent exhibitions with over a dozen showrooms each. The Museum of Chinese History covers the collections from 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The National Museum of China contains over 620,385 cultural items in its permanent art collection, and the museum displays many precious and rare Chinese historical artifacts that are not found in other museums.

The Most Important Collections

1. Houmuwu square cauldron (ding)

Houmuwu square cauldron (ding) was cast over 3,000 years ago and weighing 832.84 kilograms. It the largest Shang ritual bronze vessel found to date and the heaviest ancient bronze item in the world.

2. Square vessel (fang zun) with four rams

Being the biggest existing square zun, square vessel with four rams was made in Late Shang (1300–1046 BC) with a height of 58.3cm. It is a perfect fusion of moulding and artistic design representing the best bronze-making traditional technique.

How to get tickets

The museum is at No. 16, Chang’an Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing. Its opening times are 9:00 to 17:00 Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets are issued until 15:30 and last admission is at 16:00. You can get a free ticket from the Ticket Office at the West Gate by showing your valid ID (passport). Group visitors (more than 20 people) have to book the free tickets seven days before by calling 010-65116400 and get them at the North Gate Ticket Office with a certificate letter of the unit.

Beijing – The City that Never Sleeps

On September 23, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Nightlife, Nightlife, by Jack Li

A Beijing tour is not complete without sampling some Beijing’s bustling nightlife. From a quiet expensive cocktail to unlimited drinks for 30RMB. Just a short walk from your Beijing hotel when the sun goes down, you will come across a new world full of excitement. Most bars and clubs stay open until 4am or later so you […]

A Beijing tour is not complete without sampling some Beijing’s bustling nightlife. From a quiet expensive cocktail to unlimited drinks for 30RMB. Just a short walk from your Beijing hotel when the sun goes down, you will come across a new world full of excitement. Most bars and clubs stay open until 4am or later so you will be no doubt be spoilt for choice!

 

Night Market
If you want to experience the smells and tastes of China at its best, then a trip to the night market in Wangfujing Street is something to behold. From starfish to live scorpions on sticks, the night market has it all! However for those who are less adventurous, there are candied fruits and traditional Chinese food such as spring rolls and Kung Pao Chicken.

 

 

 

 

Sanlitun Bar Street

This thriving place is the expats favourite desintation to party. With an endless streets of clubs and bars to suit every taste. My personal favourite is called Kokomo which is a Caribbean themed club on the 4th and 5th floors of TongLi Studios and is  a lounge and has a roof terrace (which is covered in the winter) and has received a variety of awards over the last 5years. Other notable clubs include Vics which is incredibly popular among expats and is considered one of the largest and most impressive clubs in the capital and Boys&Girls which is ones of the most popular bars on the street teamed with it’s neon lights and live Chinese pop and rock bands.

 

 

Juicy

Juicy bar is one of Beijing’s best kept secrets, situated near Chaoyang park, for a one off payment of 50RMB you get yourself a members clubcard which entitles you to free entry everyday except Wednesday (where you pay 30RMB entry fee) and entitles you to half price drinks on Sunday – Tuesday and free unlimited drinks on Wednesday. The bar also has a wide variety of different flavours of Shisha which can be enjoyed on the roof terrace for only 40RMB.

 

 

 


Atmospher
e

For those who want a more exclusive feel, Bar atmosphere is definitely the place! Situated on the 80th floor of the China World Trade Centre, making it the highest bar in Beijing. As well as enjoying the views, you can enjoy a variety of single malts, one of the 300 available cocktails (starting at 65RMB) as well as some light snacks and cigars. This exclusive bar has a strict dress code after 6pm so make sure you get your glamrags on! In the evening there is entertainment from an excellent Jazz Band playing a variety of music from Duke Ellington to Norah Jones. This is the perfect venue for a special occasion or a romantic drink.

 

 

 

So when booking you Chinese flight, remember to look forward to the exciting nightlife that Beijing has to offer. There is something for everyone and you will not be bored of things to do.

Soups and Stadiums

On September 23, 2011, in Beijing, Modern Architecture, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

When people think of “Birds nest” , you would come to 2 conclusions: Birds Nest soup and the Birds Nest Stadium. I will be reviewing one these great Chinese classics, the Birds Nest Stadium, or the Beijing National Stadium as it is officially known as. A tour of Beijing is not complete without viewing this […]

When people think of “Birds nest” , you would come to 2 conclusions: Birds Nest soup and the Birds Nest Stadium. I will be reviewing one these great Chinese classics, the Birds Nest Stadium, or the Beijing National Stadium as it is officially known as. A tour of Beijing is not complete without viewing this master piece of architecture than defined an entire Olympic games. All you need to do is hop on a subway from your Beijing hotel to the Olympic Park and see for yourself!

 

History

The main purpose of the Birds Nest stadium was to be the centrepiece for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was used to hold the opening and closing ceremonies. The design for the stadium was constructed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Muron in April 2003. They claim that their design for the building was inspired by china ceramics and implementing steel beams so to hide the supports for the retractable roof, thus giving the stadium the appearance of a birds nest. Chief architect Li Xinggang stated with regards to the build, “China wanted to have something new for this very important stadium in an effort to design a stadium that is porus whilst also being a public vessel.” The ground was broken in December 2003 and was officially opened 28th June 2008. Overall, the stadium cost $423million USD to build and now a shopping mall and hotel have been built nearby in order to increase the use of the stadium.

 

 

Olympics

The Birds Nest stadium was the centrepiece to the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Originally, the Guangdong Olympic Stadium was constructed in 2001 to help the city’s bid for the Olympic games. However it was felt that a new stadium should be built with a retractable roof and have low maintenance costs.

For the 2008 Olympics, a total of 11,028 athletes from 204 countries participated in 302 events in 28sports. Out of the 37 venues used for the games, 11 of there were pre-existing, 8 were temporary venues that were removed after the games and 12 were constructed specially for the Olympics. As well as this, 6 venues were host to the games outside of Beijing, two of these being newly constructed for this purpose.

 

 

After the Olympics

The Birds nest stadium has been home to variety of events after the Olympic games. On the first anniversary of the openingceremony, the stadium hosted a performance of the Puccinni Opera Turandot and was home to the 2009 Italian Supercup. The stadium was also meant to used to house the Beijing Guo’an football club but this was later withdrawn out of the embarrassment of using a stadium that seats over 90,000 spectators for a game that only brings a crowd based of around 10,000.

Despite the last of major events in the Bird’s nest calander, the stadium still seems to be profitable, drawing in 20,000 to 30,000 people a day for it’s tourist appeal. The venue costs $9m USD to maintain.

In November 2010, it was announced that the 2015 World Athletics Championships will be hosted at the Birds Nest Stadium.

 

 

The Beijing National Stadium is something that needs to be seen by anyone travelling to Beijing and is best to experience at night when it is all light up!

 


Confessions of a Shopaholic in Beijing

On September 20, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Shopping, by Jack Li

China is notorious to the western world for being cheap. However, away from the markets and towards the highstreet and designer brands, you will be digging deep into your pockets to spend every last yuan with the exciting colours and fabrics that are avaliable! A Beijing tour is not complete without a day at the […]

China is notorious to the western world for being cheap. However, away from the markets and towards the highstreet and designer brands, you will be digging deep into your pockets to spend every last yuan with the exciting colours and fabrics that are avaliable! A Beijing tour is not complete without a day at the beautiful malls and experiencing Chinese fashion at its best. Beijing is no doubt one of the up and coming fashion capitals of the world and you are constantly surrounded by beautiful girls in unique clothes complete with weird and wonderful accessories and men in stylish get-ups that will make any fashionista jealous. So hop on a Chinese flight at get your wallets and purses at the ready!

 

Xidan is the ultimate shopping district and home to the infamous “Joy City” where there are a variety of shops from popular Chinese brands like Fengguo.com.cn and Sanrio Vivitix (the makers of Hello Kitty) to familiar UK brands such as Oasis and an even the Arsenal football team shop! Joy City is without doubt a…joyful… place to shop. It is the place where the local fashionable Beijingers shop who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the markets and have a bit more of a disposable income. Situated on 13 floors, this mall boasts having the largest digital cinema in China and the world’s longest escalator. To add to the fun of your shopping experience, there are mirrors bent into waves along some sides of the mall, reminiscent to that of a fun-house where your body’s image is twisted and contorted into all sorts of shapes and will leave you and your friends amused. After a couple of hours of hard shopping, it is time to visit one of the numerous food courts. A personal favourite of mine is a restaurant  “Babela’s Kitchen” where the menu is as thick as a book! They serve everything you could possibly imagine, suiting every palette  from pasta bakes to Chinese curried rice, all of it being reasonably priced and with excellent customer service. Their smoothie and Chinese tea selection are delicious.

Another lively shopping district is Sanlitun Village. This district is surrounded by a buzzing nightlife full of exciting bars and clubs as well as being in close proximity of the infamous Yashow market for those who want to get a bargain. The village is simply divided intotwo sections: The south being for high street brands and includes an apple store, 30 gourmet restaurants and a multi-plex cinema; and the north including more high-end fashion designers including Armani and Balenciaga, leaving every shopper satisfied and suiting their budgets.
For those with expensive taste. The China World Mall is home to all things glizty and glamorous. Just a few steps away from Guomao
subway station, you are standing amongst designers such as Tiffany & Co, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. The latest Mulberry Bag will set you back a whopping £1750! So if you are wanting to splash the cash, the China World Mall is for you. Situated in 3 zones, the mall caters for people with lower budgets by offering western food such as KFC as well as sporting an ice rink.

So travel to Beijing and experience China’s elaborate shopping malls and great sense of style.

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A Short First Timers Guide to Trains in China

On September 20, 2011, in China Travel Gossip, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

During your China travel adventure, You may consider venturing out on the train for an interesting cultural experience, a day trip to somewhere new or simply as a method of transport from point A to B. Less hassle than catching a flight or taking a bus, the trains in China cover most of the important […]

During your China travel adventure, You may consider venturing out on the train for an interesting cultural experience, a day trip to somewhere new or simply as a method of transport from point A to B. Less hassle than catching a flight or taking a bus, the trains in China cover most of the important tourist destinations alongside local areas so you can travel to Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, Tibet, Guangzhou and more depending on your itinerary.

 

Train Categories in China

Trains in China have multiple categories, distinguished by a letter (this precedes a number which corresponds to the route). ‘K’ and ‘T’ are the oldest and therefore slowest train types, with the middle category being the ‘Z’ train. Trains starting with a  ‘C’, ‘D’ or ‘G’ are the newest and fastest trains, usually with the highest prices, although this is worthwhile if you are short of time and far from the price you would pay for the same distance in a western country.

 

Seat and Sleeper Classes in China

There are a variety of seat and sleeper classes on Chinese trains, however some are restricted to certain trains, for example long distance or popular routes. The types available are: Soft Sleeper, Hard Sleeper, Soft Seat, Hard Seat and the less often seen Deluxe Sleeper.

Soft sleeper is a 4 bed compartment with a lockable door, car attendant and occasionally, TV screens and power supplies. This is the most popular category for western tourists and nicely fits a family of four. The two lower bunks convert into sofa’s for daytime use. Hard sleeper is an open plan 6 bed partition and has no lockable door. These berths are popular with the backpacker crowd and travellers with a lower budget.

Soft and hard seats are similar to those on western trains, soft is slightly larger and more padded being equivalent to first class back home, whilst second class are cheaper and adequate, like standard train seats in Europe and America.

Deluxe sleepers are usually found on long distance overnight trains and consist of a private 2 bed compartment with private bathroom area. Travellers use these less often, as they are usually equivalent to the cost of a flight and generally occupied by government employees.

Train facilities

All except the oldest ‘K’ and ‘T’ trains are fully air conditioned and generally have both western and squat toilets available. Toilet paper is very rarely supplied so be prepared to bring your own supply for the journey. Smoking is only permitted outside of sleeping compartments and aisles, however the newer model trains have a non-smoking rule.

All long distance trains and those running a popular route have restaurants on board. They are housed in a restaurant car and those heading to or from major tourist orientated towns and cities will likely have an English menu. There are snacks, drinks and hot meals available. In addition to this there are usually hot water dispensers situated throughout the train should you wish to make your own hot drinks, soup or pot noodles.

 

Booking and Purchasing Tickets

You can purchase tickets prior to your arrival in China or through an agent, this is a stress free easier method especially if you don’t have a very flexible itinerary, however there will be an added fee for the convenience.

It is simple enough to book tickets yourself and large cities generally have an English speaking booth available. Tickets for the popular high speed trains usually come on sale up to 20 days before departure however the older and less used trains often leave it until 5 to 10 days before. It is recommended to take your passport as for certain routes and trains it needs to be presented in order for you to book a ticket. Another point to be aware of is you are only able to book a journey departing from the station you are at, so you cannot book a journey from Beijing to Xian if you are at Shanghai Central Station.

A recommended website for train travel throughout China (and other cities) with all other vital information including photographs is Seat 61. You can also book many train journeys within China online at China Travel Depot.

 

Top Music Festivals in China..

On September 19, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Festivals, Shanghai, Sichuan, by Jack Li

If you are a big music fan and planning a China tour you should definitely check to see if your visit coincides with a music festival. There are a variety of music festivals every year all over China (particularly if you travel to Shanghai or Beijing) with many genres having a place on the stage. […]

If you are a big music fan and planning a China tour you should definitely check to see if your visit coincides with a music festival. There are a variety of music festivals every year all over China (particularly if you travel to Shanghai or Beijing) with many genres having a place on the stage. I attended the Black Rabbit Festival this weekend which is a new festival for 2011 playing in Beijing and Shanghai. There was a mix of international and local talent including Yellowcard, PK 14, Ludacris and 30 Seconds to Mars.

 

Ticket were a fraction of the cost expected in the west, with prices at 210RMB for the full day event. Generally a ticket to see just one of these bands would cost that price. The festival itself was an interesting mix, where indie, rock and hip hop fans all came together to experience their favourite acts performing.

 

 

The festival in Beijing was located at Chaoyang Sports Park on the outskirts of the city, it was only a 32RMB cab ride there, however the journey back was a little difficult as taxi’s were not willing to stop and pick anyone up! So we resulted to hopping on the 350 bus back to Tuanjiehu (Sanlintun area) and continuing our travels by subway.

 

The grounds of the festival had a variety of entertainment, with a Chinese style market, food vendors and a bouncy castle. We were lucky enough to acquire some freebies of t-shirts and rabbit ears which helped us blend in to the festival crowd further!

 

Here is a short selection of some other popular festivals across China you may wish to check out!

 

MIDI Festival

Midi is China’s largest and longest running festival and usually runs for four consecutive days. It runs every year at the beginning of May in Beijing and the bands are usually within the Rock, Punk and Metal genres. Tickets cost around 200RMB for the weekend, and there is usually a combination of Chinese and International artists.

 

Strawberry Festival

Strawberry is another big rock festival held annually in Beijing (alongside other cities). It appears to be competition against Midi festival as they generally schedule to run at the same time, in the same city, just an hour apart from one another.

 

Zebra Festival

Zebra music festival is held each year in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Again it is a rock festival and tickets are 80RMB (for a day pass as weekend tickets aren’t available) with the festival running for three days.

 

Beijing Pop Festival

This festival, contrary to the name, is infact another rock festival! It was held every year (until 2007) in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park and features a combination of local and international bands. Notable acts that have performed there include Nine Inch Nails,  Public Enemy and New York Dolls. However, there haven’t been any performances over the past few years meaning it possibly could be extinct, considering Black Rabbit Festival has popped up in the month this festival usually takes place.

 

Other festivals to look into are Modern Sky Festival, China Music Valley Festival and Blossom Festival. However, festivals throughout China seem to be disappearing as fast as they begin, so it is best to continually check the line up and stability before planning any China Travel around this!

 

 

Anyone for Tea?

On September 19, 2011, in China Travel Gossip, Cultural Experience, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

It is virtually impossible to go on a China tour and not come across Chinese tea. From green tea to oolong tea, China ceases to amazing the palette with it’s variety of smells and tastes of tea. From Chinese shops to Chinese hotels, tea is everywhere. According to popular Chinese legend, tea was first discovered by the […]

It is virtually impossible to go on a China tour and not come across Chinese tea. From green tea to oolong tea, China ceases to amazing the palette with it’s variety of smells and tastes of tea. From Chinese shops to Chinese hotels, tea is everywhere.

According to popular Chinese legend, tea was first discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BCE when a leaf from a camellia sinensis tree fell into some water that the emperor was boiling. Today the camellia sinensis leaves are still used for Chinese tea. Traditionally there are 4 types of tea: white, green, oolong and black however it is thought that there are over 1,000 types of tea within these categories!

Chinese tea culture is so different to that of the western world. In China, tea is regularly consumed for casual and formal events as well as used in traditional Chinese medicine and cuisine.

Tea customs

There are many tea drinking customs to be aware of whilst you visit China which will help you liaise with the locals:

Sign of respect:  The younger generation should always show respect for their elders and offer them a cup of tea. This is also the case that the workers should offer tea to their boss. However in modern society in informal settings, bosses will make tea for their employees, it should not be expected.

To apologise: People make serious apologies by pouring tea for them and this shows a sign of regret and submission. i.e. a child will pour their parents tea if they have been disobedient.

 

Finger tapping: It is customary to thank the tea server for tea by knocking their bent index and middle fingers on the table to express thanks. This is a common way if you are in the middle of talking with someone at the table whilst tea is being served.

 

How to prepare the perfect cuppa

In order to make the perfect cup of Chinese tea, you can either place the loose tea leaves into a tea infuser, a teapot or a teacup. Then

 

you poor the hot water over the leaves and leave it for a couple of minutes. When the tea is ready to serve you either remove the infuser or strain the tea.

These are the ideal temperatures of water and steeping time for the 4 categories of Chinese tea:

White Tea (Between 65°C and 70°C)  1-2minutes steeping time
Green Tea (Between 75°C and 80°C) 1-2 minutes steeping time
Oolong Tea (Between 80°C and 85°C) 2-3 minutes steeping time
Black teak (99°C) 2-3 minutes steeping time

Eat cup of tea there should be a level teaspoon for white, green and oolong teas whilst black tea needs a rounded teaspoon.

Some teas are brewed several times using the same leaves. Chinese teas are divided into numerous infusions. The first is immediately poured out to was the tea. Every infusion after the first is drunk but the third to fifth infusions are considered the bests. However, different types of tea open up differently and may require more infusions.

 

China tea can come in a variety of weird and wonderful colours and can either be hot or cold. Your China travels are not complete without a sip of tea!

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