How High? Beihai and Houhai!

On June 20, 2012, in Beijing, China Attractions, Cool Places, Nature Scenery, Nightlife, by Jack Li

Restaurants, live music, and the lake; what more could you possibly ask for in an evening? Houhai Lake offers all of the above listed things and more. When you travel to Beijing, I guarantee you will not experience an area in any other part of Beijing quite like Houhai Lake. Comparable to South Beach in […]

Restaurants, live music, and the lake; what more could you possibly ask for in an evening? Houhai Lake offers all of the above listed things and more. When you travel to Beijing, I guarantee you will not experience an area in any other part of Beijing quite like Houhai Lake. Comparable to South Beach in Miami, Houhai Lake area is one of the most fun areas that I have visited in Beijing. When you make plans to  travel to Beijing, Houhai Lake is an area that you should take time out of your schedule to go visit. Houhai Lake is not only a great tourist attraction, but also an area where you can experience many of the local cuisines and music.

Houhai Lake is located in the Gulou area of Beijing and is a great place to spend an afternoon outdoors. During the summer, you have the ability to rent paddle boats or to ride in a boat with someone rowing it for your group. Tickets are relatively inexpensive and the boat rides typically last for about an hour and take you all around the lake. Similar to Houhai Lake, Beihai Lake also offers these same activities. Both lakes are relatively close together and both attractions can be visited in one day. These lakes are an immense amount of fun and I would go to both if the option is a possibility.

Along with renting boats or riding in a row boat, Beihai Lake has one of the largest Chinese Gardens in the area, which is beautiful to see as are the lily pads floating in the water. It also contains a place called Bai Ta or as we may know it, the White Pagoda. Its body is made of white stone. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. The White Pagoda is situated on the highest point in the area and offers a three hundred and sixty degree view of Beijing. The view is absolutely amazing and mirrors the beauty that the rest of the park has to offer.

When you travel to Beijing and visit Houhai Lake and Beihai Lake, I recommend that you visit the lakes in the later portion of the afternoon and start at Beihai Lake. If you begin at Beihai and see the garden and White Pagoda, you can then make your way down to Houhai area and walk around to the different street vendors. They sell everything ranging from clothes to fried scorpion. If you are feeling adventurous, they not only sell fried scorpion, but also fried sea horse. I myself am not that adventurous and stuck to the food the restaurant had to offer me, but if you want a chance to try some of the “local cuisine,” there are many street vendors selling a variety of foods. The options for restaurants with a lakeside view are endless. You can eat anything ranging from Chinese food to American food. We chose a restaurant offering both and although it was a relatively pricey meal, the atmosphere more than accounted for the price we paid. After dinner, you can walk around and listen to the live music that many of the bars and cafes have to offer and enjoy the scenery simultaneously. Visiting the Houhai Lake area made for an amazing afternoon and evening!

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A Taste of the West

On June 18, 2012, in China Travel Gossip, Restaurants & Food, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing or any other foreign country for that matter, I feel as though at some point in the vacation there is always someone in the group who ends up feeling a little bit homesick. While this is not the case for me, that is not entirely true for all of my […]

When you travel to Beijing or any other foreign country for that matter, I feel as though at some point in the vacation there is always someone in the group who ends up feeling a little bit homesick. While this is not the case for me, that is not entirely true for all of my friends. In terms of the food that is offered once you travel to Beijing, although there are many fabulous Chinese restaurants, you can also find a plethora of American restaurants that can give you that little taste of home you are longing for.

Not too far from where we are living, not only can you find a Papa John’s, but also a Mcdonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken! Other places that have brought their brands overseas include Nathan’s, Subway, and Starbucks. Although I am sure these are not the only American fast food places present in Beijing, these are the only ones I have encountered thusfar. If you are a finnicky eater, then do not fret for there are plenty of “American” options here in China. Not only do these American brands exist in Beijing, but there are also plenty of other restaurants that serve Western dishes, but are not familiar Western brands. For example, there is a place near where I live called Gung Ho. They serve a variety of different foods, but mainly with an Italian emphasis. They serve anything ranging from pasta dishes to calzones to pizzas. However, they are not an eat-in restaurant. They are a delivery service and are very efficient. Another place our group found is called Pyro Pizza. Although it is not incredibly close to where we live, it is only a subway ride away! Located in Wudaoko, Pyro Pizza is a delicious pizza place with a variety of options coupled with a wide array of beverages. Going to Pyro Pizza reminded me a lot of being back home near my college for there were many western students along with people participating in a beer pong tournament, which is a popular pasttime for college students. However, the options for American cuisine do not end there! There is also a place called Grinders, offering grilled-to-order grinders as well as a variety of imported beers. Also in the Shuangjing area is a restaurant called Lily’s American Diner, which offers a sizeable selection of North American and Tex-Mex cuisines. The options for American cuisine are endless!

Despite there being a wide array of American cuisines here in China, I recommend that when you travel to Beijing that you keep your mind open and try the delicious cuisine offered here. However, I know that is always easier said than done so when those cravings for westernized food strike, do not worry for there are a slew of options available to suit your palate.

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Beijing’s Most Photogenic Street ‘Gui Jie’ aka Ghost Street!

On October 17, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Nightlife, Restaurants, by Jack Li

If you are planning to travel to Beijing and would like to see a glimpse of traditional Chinese culture, you may wish to head out one evening to Ghost Street. This is a local street lined with restaurants and has a very traditional style complete with red lanterns and neon lights. The street (also known […]

If you are planning to travel to Beijing and would like to see a glimpse of traditional Chinese culture, you may wish to head out one evening to Ghost Street. This is a local street lined with restaurants and has a very traditional style complete with red lanterns and neon lights. The street (also known as Gui Jie) is an easy trip from most Beijing hotels. You can either catch a taxi directly there or hop on the Subway to Yonghegong where it is an easy ten minute walk away.

 

Ghost Street is open 24 hours a day, and is one of the most well known food streets in Beijing. It would be the perfect place to head toward for dinner after arriving on a late flight, especially if you are travelling across time zones. It is also an ideal place for some brilliant photos as the colours at night are really vibrant and the red tones are typically what you associate with China.

 

The street itself is 1442 metres long, with the highest concentration of restaurants at the top and bottom sections. The middle has a less dense selection of restaurants and is a lot quieter. The area in general gives you a glimpse into the life of a local, as it is not a heavily tourist orientated place, therefore not many places will have an English menu available nor speak the language. This is not a major problem though as almost all restaurants will have a picture menu and staff are very friendly and willing to help. For extra reassurance it may be best to take your phrasebook or download a translation application to your mobile phone.

 

The local name of ‘Ghost Street’ apparently derives from years ago when the area was used to hold ‘Ghost Fairs’ selling groceries through the night. The name ‘Ghost’ was used as the vendors lights omitted a ghostly light and shadow effect.

 

The street also has it’s own speciality dish which is what is most commonly associated with the area. This ‘signature’ dish consists of lobster, chillies and peppers stir fried together and is known as ‘Spicy Pepper Lobster’. In addition to this famous dish there are a variety of restaurants serving a variety of food styles from Beijing and throughout the rest of China. Another popular cuisine to try at Ghost Street is the Hot Pot. This iconic dish consists of a large pot of broth that is placed in the centre of the table, which diners use to cook the variety of meat and vegetables placed on small plates around the outside.

 

Food at Gui Jie is known for having very reasonable prices combined with a lively atmosphere. There is plenty going on at all hours, with vendors selling a variety of merchandise from carts and stools on the street. So be sure to drop off your bags and head straight here when you step off your Beijing flight, for a variety of authentic food at a time to suit you.

 

 

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