Saw: Beijing Airport, Youth Hostel, Lotus our local supermarket, Korean Market
Ate: Lots of free aeroplane food, Katsu Curry
Comments: Food here is dead cheap - The Katsu curry cost £2.50! It was really good. The Youth Hostel is fine - clean, functioning, enough toilets and showers (even one token 'western' toilet which I make use of!). My dorm mates are all Asian but some speak to me in English, they're very friendly and interested in what I'm doing.
Saw: Peking University, Hutongs around Houhai, Hohai Lake
Ate: Taiwanese Pancake, Giant strawberries, Sushi, 'Bolognaise'.
Comments: The University is very old and grand and parts are used as a hotel for the public! I sat in the foyer while Helen had 2 hours of lectures and finished my book (hurrah!). Then we went to Houhai which is famous for keeping the Hutongs (traditional Chinese houses with thatched roofs) restored and open to the public to view. We came to the Lake at night - it was all lit up and very atmospheric.
Saw: The Great Wall of China - Huanghua region
Ate: Bing, Mini bananas, Dragon fruit, Hotpot
Comments: I can't believe I've actually walked on the Great Wall of China. Helen took us to a very secluded part so we had the walk to ourselves (apart from one old, confused looking man who asked us for 2 yuan each to continue walking, but seeing as that's 20p we decided not to argue, handed it over, and were free of people for the rest of the walk!). In the evening we went to a hotpot restaurant where you are each presented with a boiling vat and raw meat, veg and noodles and you get to boil it yourself! Lots of fun.
Saw: The Temple of Heaven, Vivi & Lottie's flat, Wu
Ate: Bing, Giant strawberries, Celery & Rice dish
Comments: The temple was so good that it's taken up the majority of one of my other blog posts. Later that evening we went to Vivi and Lottie's who are 2 of Helen's course mates - for a good old fashioned student get-together… After sampling China's more interesting cheap alcoholic beverages we later went to Wu (club) who offered us free entry and free storing of coats and jackets, not to mention well named cocktails at very reasonable prices.
Saw: Forbidden City, Tian anmen Square, Qianmen Avenue
Ate: Fried chicken, Mini oranges, Sweetcorn, Horberry kebab (hors on a stick), Mahua, Meal out in a Yunan Restaurant (Beef curry, tomato and scrambled egg, Shredded cabbage with garlic, rice, pineapple rice).
Comments: The Forbidden City was beautiful, it was awe inspiring to see the scale of the city. We followed this with a visit to Tian anmen square, after everything I've heard about this internationally renowned square it was surreal to stand here, and an honour. Qianmen Avenue is one of those really fancy rows of big international shops (just opposite the square) so it was nice to end our sight-seeing weekend in a slightly more upbeat fashion. The Yunan restaurant was amazing - Firstly, I admit that I was dubious about the egg and tomato dish, but it looked and tasted amazing, so did the other dishes. My favourite, however, was the pineapple rice, it was sweet, sticky, filled with pineapple and the best part is, it was served in a pineapple!!! (Small minds please).
Saw: A traditional chinese supermarket, had a bit of a walk
Ate: Chinese bread rolls for lunch, for dinner we went to a restaurant with Sam and ordered: Prawns in garlic, beef kebabs, sweet sticky aubergine, fried potato slices, fried naan bread. Then we bought pineapple kebabs on the way home.
Comments: Helen was in Uni most of the day and I was really tired!! So I did some shopping, updated the blog and planned the rest of my week.
Saw: Llama temple, sight-seeing arund Yonghedong Dajie, Confucius temple, Wangfujing night market, Korrean Bar on Helen's road.
Ate: Garlic bing slices, oven roast soya beans, strawberries. At the market: A FRIED SCORPION!! Jiaozi, hand made giant spring rolls, sticky fruit kebab, honeycomb, all washed down with cocunut milk (still in the coconut, obviously, I drank it from a straw!).
Comments: I felt so proud of myself for going on an outing alone and getting back in one whole piece!! The temples had surprisingly similar decor, but were both lovely to view, especially seeing the llama (monks) strolling around answering questions. That evening Helen took me to the night market which was incredible - everyone was shouting and pushing past each other, but what an amazing atmosphere. We both ate a fried scorpion, standard. Afterwards, the korrean bar offered some tranquility, as we sipped our warm sake and I told Helen all about Confucius!
Saw: The Summer Palace
Ate: Jianbing, pineapple kebab, sweet bing. For dinner: Peking Duck, pancakes etc, donkey dumpling, green beans, garlicy celery, chili potatos, egg fried rice.
Comments: Again I was trusted to venture out alone - The weather on Tuesday was surprisingly sunny and with more good weather forecast today, a bus ride out to the impereal gardens made a lovely afternoon's walk. My favourite part was scrambling up the hills to a high view of Beijing! Obviously, I couldn't see as far as I'd have liked to because of the smog, but what I saw was impressive. We joined Helen's course mates in the evening and went to a restaurant where Sam ordered a very large amount of food!! We sat as a 6, Me and Helen, Sam, Flo, Anna and Ben and we had a giant round table to ourselves!
Saw: Panjiang Antiques Market
Ate: Sushi, chicken kebabs, bananas, katsu curry, dragon fruit, dim sum
Comments: I ventured out to the market by msyelf, it was quite a treck and I got a little bit lost on the way (!) but I found it eventually, thanks to my map which I'd sketched from google maps the night before with Helen! I secured some really nice presents for people back home (and indulged myself in some street art for my bedroom). Then we had a nice relaxing evening which included katsu curry, chess, dim sum and watching A Clockwork Orange which we'd picked up at a chinese dvd store for an impressive 120p!
Saw: 798 Art District, The Olympic Village
Ate: Chinese bread rolls (which I've just been informed are called Manton!), bananas, and a pizza!
Comments: The art district was amazing - I was absolutely in my element here, bought some art, looked at lots of art, giggled with Helen a lot - and then we went for pizza... What an amazing day! In the evening we went to the Olympic Village to see (amongst others) the Birdsnest stadium all lit up and looking pretty awesome.
Saw: Fragrance Hill, The peak of Fragrance Hill, The Korean Quarter, Sanlitun.
Ate: Baozi, rice & soyabean sweets, dried tomato sweets (bought by accident!!!), Korean spiced chicken and rice.
Coments: I took a day trip to a village in rural Beijing... The particular village I visited is home to Fragrance Park and Mountain. Appartently the mountain has two nicknames: 'The incense burner' because of it's shape; and 'The devil's frown', because of how steep it is. There are cable cars that will take you up the side of the hill, but some people choose to walk it, so I decided to seize the day and take the hike! It took me most of the day, but was definitely worth it. When I got back, Helen and I went to the Korean quarter for dinner, apparantly Korean food is the latest craze over here, but it's all quite spicy. We spent the rest of the evening with Helen's coursemates in Sanlitun, with its array of classy (pricey!) bars - it's very popular with Beijing's cool crowds.
Location: Beijing -> Shanghai
Saw: The train to Shanghai!!! Nanjing Street & Renmin Square, Shanghai.
Ate: Rice with chicken & veg, taiwanese pancake, pappaya, bananas, veggie noodles.
Coments: We took the high-speed train to Shanghai which took 5 hours, then we were able to visit Renmin Square in the evening on the way to our Shanghai Youth Hostel!
Mon: Shanghai -> Suzhou
Saw: The Old Quarter - Shanghai, Pingjiang Lu, Guanqian Jie, and The 'Snack Culture' Festival.
Ate: A watermelon slice, Egg fried rice, Mixed veg dishes, Hoisin pancake, Chicken kebabs, Sweet sesame-seed cake, Churros & Ice cream,
Comments Guanquian Jie and the Snack Culture square were great to visit - with a buzzing atmosphere and plenty to see (Guanquian is the high street in Suzhou, so plenty of shops and street sellers). That said, the two sights were completely over shaddowed by our trip to Pingjiang Lu: We were blown away by the two bohemian streets lining the canal; they housed boutiques, market stalls, bars, restaurants, street sellers, and the way was lit by lantens and illuminated bar fronts.
A.O.B. Happy Birthday to my wonderful and lovely brother who turned 20 today :)
Suzhou -> Tongli -> Suzhou -> Shanghai.
Saw: Two Chinese Gardens: The Garden of the Master of the Nets, and The Lion's Cave - Suzhou, Pingjiang by day, Waterfront Teahouse - Pingjiang, Bus to Tongli, Tongli Canal Village, Bus back to Suzhou, Train back to Shanghai
Ate: Savory Sesame seed cake, Dicos (The Chinese equivalent of KFC), Lots of oranges, Shaaxi Whole Noodle
Commnts: We had a really busy day! The first garden was an absolute pleasure to visit - it was calm, and peaceful (Suzhou gardens are famed around China - note: Here, gardening is an art form, as such, everything is symbolic, and the garden represents balance though 'subtle combinations'！ The second garden, however, was over-crowded and frustrating to visit. As it reached 11am we were forced to retreat from our garden viewing morning and take refuge in a teahouse in Pingjiang （Not that I was really complaining!), so we sat out on the balcony over the river and enjoyed fine Chinese tea - or orange juice in Helen's case. We think the over-crowding might have been because we were doing sight-seeing during a Chinese National Festival; the Chinese do enjoy their heritage too! Tongli (our afternoon destination) is a delightful little canal village which is very much lived in and (mostly) unspoil by the modern world, so were really enjoyed this expedition. Then we wizzed back to Shanghai for a ngiht overlooking the Bund. I have a lot to say about Shanghai, and plan to write a seperate blog really soon!
Saw: The bund by day, The site of the first congress of the Comunist Party of China (CPC), Sun Yat-Sen's former Shanghai residence and attached museum, Tianzifang market, The French Concession.
Ate: Oranges, Baozi, Banana, Noodles and mixed veg, Sushi.
Commnts: We had a fantastic day in Shanghai - there will be a blog about this amazing city really soon!
Shanghai -> Zhengzhou -> Dengfeng
Saw: The Shaolian Temple!
Ate: I bought a sesame-seed roll with tofu in for lunch, and for dinner we went out to a restaurant in Dengfeng with one of the 'kungfu experts' living in the temple!! We met during the day and he was impressed by Helen's spoken chinese ability so he asked for her number and called us later in the day to ask us out for dinner! The whole experience was completely sureal, as you can imagine; and to add to this, we were the only two eating because he'd already had food at the temple, he just fancied an evening out!!
The journey - We took the night train from Shanghai to Zengzhou, which was an experience and a half. The other people in our sleeper carriage were lovely (one Koran girl, who was on her year abroad too, and two Chinese men, who were fascinated by Helen (!) and were keen to chat to her in English, mostly because they wanted to understand our card game... The change (at 4:30!!!) from the Zengzhou train station to a long distance coach was less fun.
Shaolian - The temple was beautiful, I'm very glad to have seen it, but in honesty it's no more impressive than other temples I've seen during my trip. What made the Shaolian different was the gorgeous mountainous backdrop, the river and the trees (perfect timing China - they were just in blossom). We climbed to the top of one of the hills to take in the view, and we visited the rest of the sights, including the famous kung-fu show!
Dengfeng -> Luo yang
Saw: Luo yang old town and the new high street, A chinese ceramics art gallery, A chinese tea boutqiue, 'The market in the centre of heaven' (apparently) where I bought a new backpack, A really, really cheap fake shoe shop - I bought some 'vans' for under 6 quid! A good day for shopping! In the evening we walked into the square where there were a number of open air dance classes taking place (average age 55)! Needless to say, we joined in, and enjoyed ballroom dancing and a flash-mob style disco dance session.
Ate: Sesame seed rolls, Mini baozi, The 'Best Cakes [Helen Pittam has] ever eaten in China, an orange, a banana, a pineapple kebab, (The awkward moment when Gabby starts keeping a blog about how much fruit she eats every day...!), Noodles with aubergine, CHICKEN NECK!
Comments: Getting to Luo yang was fun, we bough 'bus tickets' which entitled us to fold down seats in the aisle of slow, hot, mini-bus which played bad rap music and showed soft porn on the cheap speakers and screen at the front. However, things brightened up when we arrived, and we enjoyed a fun day being tourists in Luo yang: As well as visiting many street sellers for food (really nice fruit and AMAZING cakes available on the road parallel our hostel!)
Saw: The Longmen caves
Ate: Banana, more of the best cakes Helen Pittam has ever eaten in China, strawberries, bing, baozi, vegetable stir-fry.
Comments: We were very impressed with the caves and the surrounding landscape! Our tickets entitled us to west of the river (on the side with the sculptures - up close and personal!), east of the river (with a really good view of the sculptures!), Xingshan temple and Ba Lu Yi's tomb (and surrounding gardens); quite a lot to see in one day! Then we headed back to the youth hostel to pick up our bags and head off to catch the night train (2nd night train of the trip) back to Beijing.
Luo yang -> Beijing
Saw: A State-Approved Catholic Mass!
Ate: Lots of chocolate!!! And a katsu curry.
Comments: We arrived back in Beijing at 6am, exhausted, but delighted at our week's traveling. Happy Easter!
Saw: Not a right lot, although we did watch 'The House of Flying Daggers' a really good Kungfu film!
Ate: Banana, pineapple, baozi. We went back to the Yunan restaurant where we ordered fried cabbage, chicken curry and the egg & tomato dish again - it's really good food! Of course we also ordered the pineapple rice that comes in a pineapple!
Saw: San Li Tun Designer Clothes Market
Ate: Banana, jenbing. For dinner we went back to the Peeking Duck restaurant and sat as 13 around the table - It was great to spend another evening with Helen's coursemates and it made really nice evening out on my last day! Then we continued to the Korean Bar for 'Cocktails for Ladies' which were fruity, sweet and reasonable cheap!