Sample Some Snake, Scorpion, Seahorse or Starfish at Wangfujing!

On September 16, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

For adventurous eaters or those just curious to see the range of unusual creatures deemed edible, you should definitely not miss a trip to the night markets in Wangfujing. This is an experience that usually isn’t on offer in other countries, except slightly less bizarre offerings such as fried grasshoppers in South East Asia! Therefore […]

For adventurous eaters or those just curious to see the range of unusual creatures deemed edible, you should definitely not miss a trip to the night markets in Wangfujing. This is an experience that usually isn’t on offer in other countries, except slightly less bizarre offerings such as fried grasshoppers in South East Asia! Therefore when you travel to Beijing it is a must see, if only for some interesting photographs to show people back home! Also if you plan to travel to Shanghai there are also similar streets to sample the delicacies.

 

Wangfujing is fairly central to access on Subway line 1 and the stop is conveniently also called Wangfujing. Take exit A and it is a short walk to most of the action. Wangfujing is also more than just the night market location, being a popular attraction and one of the busiest shopping areas. It is also a pedestrian only street which is a rarity in Beijing, and has a variety of shops and smalls.

 

There are a few night market areas but the main streets are ‘Xiaochi Jie’ and ‘Donganmen’. These stalls are a little more expensive and tourist orientated however you will find an exciting array of insects, animals and other edible deep fried delicacies to try. Examples of the variety available include everything from starfish, scorpion, lizard and snake to silk worms, millipedes, spiders and birds.

 

If you are a fussy eater there is plenty of ‘normal’ food available at the stalls aswell, including noodles, spring rolls and rice dishes. There are also plenty of stalls selling a variety of kebabs using lamb or chicken. In addition to this if you require a full meal there are plenty of both Chinese and Western restaurants in the area, and you can walk north to the many hutongs to sample some authentic dishes down any of the small side streets.

 

The market is opened every evening from around 5pm and starts to close at 9.30pm, with it clearing away completely by 10pm. It is also located reasonably nearby Tianamen Square so you may be able to walk from your Beijing hotel.

 

 

Entertainment in Beijing: Acrobatics, Opera & Kung Fu Shows!

On September 15, 2011, in Beijing, Entertainment, Nightlife, by Jack Li

A must see experience on any China tour is a visit to an acrobatic show. Attractions like this can be very hit and miss but Chinese acrobatics is definitely a hit and has to be seen to be believed! The shows are an eclectic mix of dance, gymnastics, contortion, martial arts and incredible stunts, with […]

A must see experience on any China tour is a visit to an acrobatic show. Attractions like this can be very hit and miss but Chinese acrobatics is definitely a hit and has to be seen to be believed! The shows are an eclectic mix of dance, gymnastics, contortion, martial arts and incredible stunts, with insane acts such as five men on motorbikes whizzing around a gigantic hamster like ball.

 

The history of Chinese Acrobatics dates back over two thousand years and when you travel to Beijing the best and most recommended location to see the extravagance is the Chaoyang Theatre. The theatre is easy to get to and located in the east of the city, the nearest subway stop is ‘Hujialou’ on line 10. Performances are available each night, with a viewing at 5.15-6.30pm and another at 7.15-8.30pm with the cost being around 200RMB for the cheapest seats, however this can rise up to 800RMB for those with the best views.

 

Chaoyang Theatre has a souvenir stall selling merchandise related to the performance including a DVD of the show, and there is also a small shop selling drinks and snacks to bring into the theatre with you. Performances are around 75 minutes.

 

The show is a spectacular combination of movement, lighting and sound and makes for some beautiful photos. Other theatres in Beijing offering shows are the Tiandi ‘Heaven and Earth’ Theatre (nearest subway stop is Dongsishitiao on Line 2) with shows daily at 7.15-8.30pm and Tianqiao Theatre (best accessed by taxi) with shows at 7.15pm. Both cost in the region of 180RMB for the cheaper seats.

 

In addition to Acrobatics there is also an energetic Kung Fu performance on show at the Red Theatre (closest subway stop is Tiantandongmen, Line 5) entitled ‘The Legend of Kung Fu’. There is more than just martial arts to this show which follows a narrative, as it involves dangerous stunts with variety of props and sharp instruments. There are performances every evening beginning at 7.30pm and tickets cost from 180RMB. Shows last 1 hour and 20 minutes.

 

Another traditional attraction is the Beijing Opera (known as Jingxi) which, although not as comprehensible as the above attractions, is still worth a visit – if not for the impressive costumes, make up and stage design. The most popular theatres for this are Liyuan Theatre (accessed via the Liyuan stop on the Batong line) and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (subway stop Tian’anmen West (Xi)), both have evening performances starting at 7.30pm. Alongside the original opera performances many popular Chinese teahouses also combine the traditional tea tasting experience with Opera entertainment, and often this can be combined with a Peking Duck dinner too.

 

If you are unsure about organising any of these activities or would rather be a part of a group visit many Beijing Hotels and online travel companies offer tours or package deals to all of the above attractions.

The Best Aerial Views Over Beijing..

On September 14, 2011, in Accomodation, Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Nightlife, by Jack Li

You may be interested to learn the best spots around Beijing for catching an interesting view of the city. When you travel to Beijing, although it is not quite as mesmerizing as Hong Kong’s skyline the views are still well worth the trip. The trickiest part is timing your visit with a clear sky for […]

You may be interested to learn the best spots around Beijing for catching an interesting view of the city. When you travel to Beijing, although it is not quite as mesmerizing as Hong Kong’s skyline the views are still well worth the trip. The trickiest part is timing your visit with a clear sky for good visibility. China hotels generally are some of the best spots for good viewing opportunities, particularly the high floor bars and lounges typical of the more upmarket establishments.

One such place is the Atmosphere Bar. This is a relatively new high end bar with drinks prices to match (cocktails starting at 65RMB), however on a clear day or night it easily takes the title for best views across Beijing. It is located on the 80th floor of the China World Tower 3, officially known as ‘China World Summit Wing’, which can be found on the Beijing east 3rd ring road. It is also easily accessed via the metro, simply catch Line 1 to Guomao.

Atmosphere is open from 12 noon until 2am, and specifies a ‘smart casual’ dress code. There are both smoking and non-smoking areas, and the bar offers views of the CBD, Sanlitun and the Tian’anmen area.

Another recommended bar is ‘China Bar’ located on the 65th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, this previously held the title for Beijing’s highest bar before the China World Summit Wing was built. Being another luxury hotel the drink prices are steep starting at 70RMB for cocktails and 60RMB upwards for beer, however the views are great across the Central Business Disctrict taking in the CCTV headquarters (known as the ‘pants building’) and the Bird’s Nest Stadium on a clear night. Opening times are 5pm until 1am, and it is accessed from the same metro as the Atmosphere Bar so you could visit both in an evening.

The Park Hyatt also has a restaurant called China Grill on the floor above which is Beijing’s highest restaurant. The panoramic 360 degree views are stunning, and they serve a range of Western food alongside Chinese and Japanese.

For unmissable views over the Tian’anmen and Forbidden City area, head for Jingshan Park (admission 2RMB). The park is located just north of the Forbidden City and on a clear day has fabulous views across Beijing, including Lake Beihai to the west and the Bell and Drum towers in the north. Whilst here you can visit some traditional Chinese temples and also the spot where emperor Chong Zhen hung himself in 1644, after the Imperial Palace was broken into by rebel troops.

Other good views across the city can be found at the Drum Tower and CCTV Tower (not to be confused with the CCTV Headquarters), and many Beijing Hotels also have great views of the city, particularly toward the higher floors.

Make A Splash at the Water Cube!

On September 13, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Modern Architecture, by Jack Li

Beijing National Aquatics Centre, more commonly known as ‘The Water Cube’, is one of the famous constructions created for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing’s Olympic Park. It is a popular attractions for tourists who travel to Beijing and is easy to get to from all Beijing hotels. It cost over 10 billion yuan to build […]

Beijing National Aquatics Centre, more commonly known as ‘The Water Cube’, is one of the famous constructions created for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing’s Olympic Park. It is a popular attractions for tourists who travel to Beijing and is easy to get to from all Beijing hotels. It cost over 10 billion yuan to build and was designed to host the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events during which 25 world records were broken.

If you just want to take a look around, head there in the evening as the Water Cube is lit up a vibrant neon blue and takes some great photos. Nearby the Olympic Torch and Bird’s Nest Stadium are also very brightly lit and photogenic. You may also find yourselves the target of some photographic attention as it is a popular spot for out of towners who may not have seen many westerners before. This can range from shy attempts to photograph you to a request for you to pose in front of the landmark with their child or whole family!

The area is simple enough to get to via the Subway and the less often used Line 8 will take you right to the grounds. You can alight at either Olympic Park or Olympic Centre as they are either side. Be wary if you are there in the late evening that once the lights go off at 10pm, the last subway is usually just over 20 minutes after this. However if you do find that you’ve missed it then a taxi to the city centre will usually be around 40RMB (insist on the meter), although finding one may be difficult.

On August 8th, 2010, marking the two year anniversary of the Olympics, the Water Cube was reopened as a water park known as ‘Happy Magic’. Entry prices are steep for Beijing, costing 200RMB for adults and 160RMB for children, but it may be worth the fee to experience the largest water park in Asia, complete with 60 lifeguards! If you can’t justify the price tag, you can also pay 50RMB to just go for a swim in the Olympic pools.

The water park is open from 10am until 9.30pm and is a colourful wonderland complete with vibrant slides, plastic jellyfish and surreal decoration. Should you not have suitable swimming attire with you in China, the park has swimwear, towels, goggles and rafts all available for purchase. Lockers cost 100RMB to rent, although 80RMB is refunded when you return.

The park features a spa, wave pool and lazy river alongside thirteen water rides including the Speed Slide, Bullet Bowl and Tornado. A day trip here would be an interesting contrast to the city and a great way to cool down if you are visiting during the hot and humid summer. There is plenty to do for adults and children alike and you can finish off at one of the water themed restaurants in the cube itself.

If you find yourself strapped for time, the water cube is only a small detour from the city on the way to or from the airport, so why not stop by before or after catching your Beijing flight!

Zhanqiao Pier (Qingdao Zhanqiao)

On September 9, 2011, in Modern Architecture, Qingdao, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Zhanqiao Pier in Qingdao is also called Qianhai Zhanqiao, Nanhai Zhanqiao or Great Pier. It is in the south seashore of Qingdao and to the north of Qingdao Gulf. It is in the opposite of downtown Qingdao. The north part of Zhanqiao Pier is connected together with Zhongshan Road, which is a very important landmark […]

Zhanqiao Pier in Qingdao is also called Qianhai Zhanqiao, Nanhai Zhanqiao or Great Pier. It is in the south seashore of Qingdao and to the north of Qingdao Gulf. It is in the opposite of downtown Qingdao. The north part of Zhanqiao Pier is connected together with Zhongshan Road, which is a very important landmark in Qingdao. Zhanqiao Pier began to be built in 18th year during the Guangxu Period (1892). It is the earliest known dock in Qingdao. Since then it was rebuilt twice in 1931 and 1985. The pier is 8 meters wide and 440 meters long. There is half-round dam to the south of the pier. There is an octagonal pavilion with two floors; this pavilion is named the Huilan Pavilion. The appearance of the Zhanqiao Pier is like a long dragon lying on the sea. It is as though the pier was entering the sea. Standing alongside the Zhanqiao Pier, you can see huge waves beating the dam. When you are inside the pavilion, there is the great hall to appreciate the view. In autumn, the west dam has the best view. When the waves hit the bank, the view is very magnificent. You can find clams on the seashore. Recent years, Qingdao has opened a movement for seagulls. When the see is quiet in autumn and winter, over one thousand seagull’s fly into the gulf, this is a view to be admired in itself. On the north of the sea bank there is a park called Zhanqiao Park. In the park, pines are very big and grass is a luscious green. The corridor and stone chairs all match with each other very well. At night, the lights in the park are very gorgeous and it makes for a nice evening walk.

Zhanqiao Pier Attractions:

Zhongshan Road

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The Challenge of Learning Mandarin in Beijing!

On September 9, 2011, in Activities, China Travel Gossip, Cultural Experience, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing, especially if you plan to get good deals in the markets or take a few taxis it may be a good idea to learn some Mandarin phrases. Although staff in the higher end China hotels may speak some English, not much is spoken in many others which can be a […]

When you travel to Beijing, especially if you plan to get good deals in the markets or take a few taxis it may be a good idea to learn some Mandarin phrases. Although staff in the higher end China hotels may speak some English, not much is spoken in many others which can be a problem should you have an issue with your room.

 

The term ‘Mandarin’ is technically the name of the Beijing dialect group within the Chinese language as opposed to the actual language name. Officially the correct name for the language itself is ‘Modern Standard Chinese’, known locally as ‘Pǔtōnghuà’ (meaning the common dialect’), however most western countries refer to it simply as ‘Mandarin’.

 

There are over 800 million speakers of Mandarin throughout the world and it is one of the six official languages for the United Nations. It is not the easiest of languages to learn, mostly due to its tonal structure and use of characters rather than a standard alphabet.

 

Mandarin has four tones and these are what differentiate words that otherwise appear to have the same pronunciation. For example, the word ‘ma’ can mean mother, horse, hemp and scold dependant on the tone used to pronounce it, and in addition it is also used to make a statement into a question, for example:

Nǐ jiào Ceri (You are called Ceri)

Nǐ jiào Ceri ma? (Are you called Ceri?)

 

Tones in Mandarin

The four tones are known as:

  • 1st (high tone)
  • 2nd (high rising tone)
  • 3rd (low falling-rising tone)
  • 4th (high falling tone)

 

Understanding Pinyin

Pinyin was introduced in 1958 as a method of writing Chinese with the common Roman alphabet and is a helpful tool in learning how to pronounce Mandarin. Pinyin is used throughout most urban areas on signs and shops, however it is less common outside of the big cities and many native Chinese can’t understand it. Pinyin is a simple system to use providing you understand the rules of pronouncing letters, for example ‘c’ is pronounced like the ‘ts’ in ‘boats’ and ‘x’ like the ‘sh’ in ‘shoulder’.

 

It is still wise to carry a phrasebook around with you as a guide, and also they commonly have Chinese character definitions which is ideal if you plan to visit more rural locations. If you intend to stay in Beijing longer than a few days, there are also language schools located throughout the city, such as ‘That’s Mandarin’ which has locations in the main expat area of ‘Dongzhimen’ and the student district of ‘Wudaokou’.

 

There are also applications for the iphone and blackberry which you can download to help you with the language further, including a Chinese to English dictionary (for more information check out this page).

 

Here are some common phrases to get you started for when you travel to Beijing:

Hello Nǐ hǎo

Goodbye Zài Jiàn

Thanks Xiè xiè

Yes Shì

No Bùshì

Do you speak English? Nǐ huìshuō Yīngwén ma?

How much? Duō Shǎo?

One

Two Er

Too expensive Tàiguì le!

 

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Dazhushan Mountain Travel Tips

On September 9, 2011, in Adventure Trip, Mountain Areas, Nature Scenery, Qingdao, Tours, by Jack Li

Ever since the Stone Gate Temple was built, people hold “mountain gathering” every year in Dazhushan Mountain. On April 8th of the lunar calendar each year, people show up in the Stone Gate Temple for a visit, to pray, or to do some shopping or selling. On this day, the smoke of incense hovers in […]

Ever since the Stone Gate Temple was built, people hold “mountain gathering” every year in Dazhushan Mountain. On April 8th of the lunar calendar each year, people show up in the Stone Gate Temple for a visit, to pray, or to do some shopping or selling. On this day, the smoke of incense hovers in and about the mountain together with the noise of the crowd. There are theatrical performances, organized trading and so on. This is the high season of the mountain. Many tourists take part in the gathering because it is springtime and they can do both sight-seeing and shopping. You can hire a guide to show you around the place and it costs you 100 Yuan.

Best Season to Visit Dazhushan Mountain:

Dazhushan Mountain is beautiful at any time of the year. In April it is spring and the blossoms richly decorate the mountain and the valley. The blossoming season lasts till the end of summer. Besides the flowers, streams and creeks are also an important part of the scenery of Dazhushan Mountain. In all the four seasons you can see clear streams running in every valley.

Dazhushan Mountain Route:

Zhushan Xiugu—Stone Gate Temple—Stone Gate Stream—Mayi Nunnery—Zhuchao Cave—Dazhushan Grottoes—Qifeng Yishi.

Dazhushan Mountain Ticket:

Adult ticket: RMB 40 per person

Children ticket: RMB 20 for children between 1.2-1.4 metres, free of charge for children under 1.2 metres.

Opening hours: 8:00-17:00

The scenic spot is mainly made up of Stone Gate Temple and Zhushan Xiugu, and the entrance ticket includes these two items. Tickets for other tourist spots: RMB 10 for sight-seeing cars, RMB 20 for the ropeway.

They low season is from October 16th to March 15th, and the high season is from March 16th to October 15th. From June 4th to 6th you can get a half-price entrance ticket at the scenic spot.

How to get to Dazhushan Mountain:

  1. By bus: Take a bus to Jiaonan Bus Station, then take Bus 3 to Stone Gate Temple Scenic Spot (Shimensijingqu); or you can take the ferry from Xuejiadao Island or Huangdao Pier and take the bus to Jiaonan and get off at Weike Station. Transfer to Bus 12 to get to Zhushan Xiugu.
  2. By car: Take the ferry to Huangdao Island or Anzi Pier, then go along Binhai Road and follow the road instructions. You can park in the temporary parking lot and take the sight-seeing bus to Zhushan Xiugu or Stone Gate Temple.
  3. There is a footpath in the Dazhushan Mountain Scenic Spot and it includes the footpath between Stone Gate Temple and Zhushan Xiugu and the flower-viewing footpath. It is very convenient.

During the flower season, twelve battery cars will be in service for the tourists. If you feel tired walking, you can get on a car.

Stone Gate Temple

On September 9, 2011, in Historical Relics, Mountain Areas, Qingdao, Temples, by Jack Li

Stone Gate Temple is situated in the mountains on the north of the main height Dazhaiding Mountain. It is called Stone Gate Temple because it uses two gigantic stones as the temple gate. It was built in 1166 and it used to consist of the Great Buddha’s Hall, Heavenly King’s Hall, Bell Tower, Drum Tower […]

Stone Gate Temple is situated in the mountains on the north of the main height Dazhaiding Mountain. It is called Stone Gate Temple because it uses two gigantic stones as the temple gate. It was built in 1166 and it used to consist of the Great Buddha’s Hall, Heavenly King’s Hall, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and the eastern and western side halls. In front of the temple there is a mountain with a 141-metre-high naturally-shaped Buddha standing on top of it. What is rare is that there is a rock shaped like a monk kneeling beside the Buddha. A clear fountain lies beside the stone gate and it does not dry up in droughts. A stream flows past the temple, and in the east and west there are mountains with strange-shaped rocks and boulders. On the east of the temple there is the Dazhushan Reservoir where you can fish and enjoy the graceful mountain scenery at the same time.

Dazhushan Mountain Scenic Spot

Qifeng Yishi

On September 9, 2011, in Cool Places, Mountain Areas, Nature Scenery, Qingdao, by Jack Li

Qifeng Yishi means “strange-shaped boulders and rocks.” If you drive along 204 National Road past Dazhushan Mountain, you will see on the southern slope of the mountain a stone turtle climbing towards the peak. Legend has it that it used to be the gold turtle kept in the Yaochi Pool of the Queen Mother of […]

Qifeng Yishi means “strange-shaped boulders and rocks.” If you drive along 204 National Road past Dazhushan Mountain, you will see on the southern slope of the mountain a stone turtle climbing towards the peak. Legend has it that it used to be the gold turtle kept in the Yaochi Pool of the Queen Mother of the West. It slipped away from her during the Pantao Party and went to the East Sea along the Milky Way. It finally arrived at Dazhushan Mountain. Looking to the north, you can see a huge rock shaped like a girl carrying a basket. To the south a rock stands on the top of the peak like a mighty eagle overlooking his territory. Also on the northern slope there is a rock like a monk in a robe and holding a staff. In the middle of the mountain there is a set of rocks that looks like the four main characters of The Journey to the West. Another mountain to the north looks like a horse in the sky. Also, one of the peaks looks like Zhongkui Beating the Ghost. Apart from these, many other peaks are like sculptures made by nature. You will marvel at how life-like they are.

Dazhushan Mountain Scenic Spot

Mayi Nunnery

On September 9, 2011, in China Attractions, Mountain Areas, Nature Scenery, Qingdao, by Jack Li

If you walk uphill from the Stone Gate Stream to the Mayi Mountain, you will see the ruins of Mayi Nunnery before your eyes. According to record, hermits of the old times had stayed here. In the cliff behind the nunnery there is a delicately made stone chamber with an arch door of two metres […]

If you walk uphill from the Stone Gate Stream to the Mayi Mountain, you will see the ruins of Mayi Nunnery before your eyes. According to record, hermits of the old times had stayed here. In the cliff behind the nunnery there is a delicately made stone chamber with an arch door of two metres and carved door-frame. Three metres in front of the stone chamber there is a stone carved with lotus pattern. There used to be an iron bridge that connected the chamber with the lotus stone. There are characters engraved or written on the mountain walls in the chamber by people of the old days. In front of the nunnery there is a Lecture Stone which, according to popular belief, marks the end of the earth and the entrance to the fairy land. Standing on the flat platform to the west of the nunnery you can get a good view of Lingshan Bay on the east and Wanglong Bay on the west. The nunnery is a secluded place and is perfect for meditation.

Dazhushan Mountain Scenic Spot

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