When: January 1-7, 2008
Duration: One (1) Week
Occasion: Six - Month' mark (that's his name!)
Sightseeing: Great Wall (Badaling), Forbidden City, Summer Palace, YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace) Tian'anmen Square, Jingshan Park, Temple of Heaven, Olympic Green Village (Bird's Nest and Water Cube)
Stay: Leo Hostel (Address: A Lai Ke Zhan, 52 Da Zha Lan Xi Jie, Qianmen, Beijing, China, 5-10 minute walk from Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Qianmen bus and subway stations)
Eating: KFC (for its hot orange drink!), Peking Duck Resto and many chinese fancy and non fancy resto which I am still trying to recall the names haha
Shopping: Pearl Market, Panjiayuan Weekend Market
Travel: Cebu Pacific Airlines (roundtrip Manila-Shanghai), Train (Shanghai to Beijing), Local Airline (Beijing-Shanghai), Subway,Buses and Foot (around Beijing)
My 143 JOURNEYS blog series debut with a destination that is close to my prince's heart (yea, he spent his undergraduate studying its language)), the so - called "Heart of China" or its capital city, Beijing!
As China's enduring capital and host to the 2008 Olympic Games, I've been longing to step in this dynastic city. You can just imagine how I jumped for joy when my prince (then a sophomore law student in New York) announced he will be in Beijing for a 15-day crash course in January 2008!
We met up in Shanghai and took the overnight train on December 31 from central Shanghai train station. On board, we celebrated New Year's eve inside the 2-berth soft sleeper (cost: RMB 450). (The other options are deluxe sleepers, hard sleepers, soft seaters and hard seaters which still look comfortable). Since Beijing to Shanghai is 1,454 km (909 miles), we got to Beijing after about 10 hours of sleep (or travel, however you want to call it) .
That was my first train journey and it was an experience in itself! Not only I was impressed with China trains network that links almost every town and city, but also because train is safe, comfortable and cheap. Highly recommended for my friends, who like me, wants to spend their sleeping time while simultaneously traveling to another place.
BEIJING WINTER SIGHTSEEING
( I was in Beijing in January 2008 which was a cold winter for me to handle. But it didn't stop us from enjoying Beijing attractions , by doing/visiting at least one or two tourist spots a day in a full week's journey )
January 1, 2008
Tourist Spot: Tian'anmen Square
Cost: Tiananmen Square (Free), Gate of Heavenly Peace (RMB 15)The Great Hall of the People (RMB 15), Chairman Mao's Mausoleum (Free), The National Museum of China (RMB 15)
Being just a stone's throw away from our accommodations, our first spot was the vast, solemn and respectful Tian'anmen Square located at the very heart of the city. This city square is the largest in the world, and serves not only Beijing's symbol but also the whole of China. A massive portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong sets above the Gate of Heavenly Peace leading to the Forbidden City.
Other significant edifices inside and around this immense courtyard includes the Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Monument to the People's Heroes and National Museum of China.
January 2, 2008
Tourist Spots: Forbidden City and Jingshan Park
Location: No.4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: On Foot (or subway)
Forbidden City is one of the most exciting things to see in Beijing. With 9,999 rooms (which obviously we were not able to see), Forbidden City is the largest and the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world. Here, the emperors ruled in splendor surrounded with wide terraces and lavishly decorated rooms.
Jingshan Park is a beautiful royal landscape garden facing the north gate of the Forbidden City. Found on Jingshan Hill, I had a full and clear view of the Forbidden City from the summit peak.
January 3, 2008
Tourist Spots: Summer Palace and YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace)
Location: Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) Road, Haidian District (Northwest of Central Beijing)
Mode of Transport: Subway and Taxi (but there are buses)
Entrance Fee: RMB 40 (low season) / RMB 50 (peak season)
The 300 - hectare Summer Palace is another Beijing's contribution to the UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1998. With its gardens and lakes, this palace was built for the imperial family to escape the heat of the city. As its name denotes, summer is the best time to visit this place and boating in Kunming Lake is a must - do. But since we were there in winter, the lake was frozen and the cruise was not available. Nonetheless, we enjoyed gazing at the lake's incomparable beauty while feeling the cold winds.
Very close to the Summer Palace is YuanMingYuan, also known as the 'Old Summer Palace'. This extremely large complex of palaces and gardens constructed during the 18th and early 19th century was originally called the Imperial Gardens. It was truly a wonderland of lakes and waterways, bridges, hills and pavilions!
January 4, 2008
Tourist Spot: Great Wall (Badaling)
Location: Badaling, 65 minutes from Beijing
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 50), Cable Car (RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: Took Bus 919 from Deshengmen (a little east of JiShuiTan subway station)(RMB 12 each way). Tourist buses abound but more expensive (RMB 150) and taxi (RMB 500 or more)
Finally! The long awaited dream of seeing one of the seven wonders of the world that lies north of Beijing, the Great Wall of China!
The Great Wall of almost 6,000 kilometers in lenght, was built more than 2700 years ago when the separate states in China built their own defence walls. It has several sections namely: Badaling, Simatai, Jinshanling, Mutianyu, Gubeikou, Huanghuacheng and Jiankou. Badaling and Mutianyu are both well preserved and most visited by tourists.
The entrance to the Badaling Great Wall is close to the bus stop. We bought a ticket for the cable car(RMB 60) which brought us up about 2/3 of the way to the peak (call it spoiling the fun, but I wasn't apt for the long hike). There we bought a second ticket for the Great Wall(RMB 50).
Above, we had a magnificent view but was more steep than I had expected. We took the right side which took us to the highest point and continued to the second half which was both much quieter and even more interesting. Then we traced our journey all the way back again!
January 5, 2008
Tourist Spots: Olympic Green - National Stadium (Bird's Nest) (unfinished), National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) newly completed
Cost: free (unfinished) (now Entrance Fee to the Water Cube (RMB 40/RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: Subway Line 8 (Olympic Special Line)
I was lucky to be in Beijing as the 2008 Olympic Games' deadline fast approaches because major sporting facilities have been taking shape day by day. Most striking of these include the National Stadium affectionately known as Bird's Nest and the National Aquatics Center nicknamed Water Cube because its outer shell and roof resembles a huge soap bubble. During our visit, the gorgeous Bird's Nest was still unfinished and the Water Cube has just been completed a few days ago (January 1). In October 2008 (after the Olympics), both the Bird's Nest and Water Cube have been opened as a tourist attractions. Good thing, my prince was in Beijing in November 2008 and took some pictures.
Since January 5, 2008 was our sixth mensiversary , my prince invited me to a dinner at a fancy traditional Chinese restaurant with his classmates. Beijing is home to Peking Duck and savoring any Beijing Duck delicacy is a "must" for those visiting Beijing for the first time like me.
January 6, 2008
Tourist Spot: Temple of Heaven
Location: East of Tianqiao, Chongwen District (southern part of Beijing)
Mode of Transport: Subway and Bus
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 35)
The Temple of Heaven is worth visiting as it has been one of the most holy places for China for more than five centuries. It is enclosed by a horseshoe shaped wall and the ceremonial halls featured the favored Chinese shapes – square for Earth and circular for Heaven, reflecting the ancient Chinese thought of "The heaven is round and the earth is square".