Wangfujing shopping street

Fancy Scorpions on a stick? Go to the Night market in Beijing!!

Wangfujing shopping streetAfter the flag lowering ceremony at The Tienanmen Square, we walked down for a few minutes on a cool, crisp night and entered Wangfujing shopping street.

If you are the adventurous type where food is concerned, this place could be heaven for you. But we don’t really eat much in meat other than chicken and Pork. Sometimes we eat duck but definitely not when we can see the eyes and the beak.

Wangfujing shopping streetYou can find dumplings, scorpions on a stick, heaps of octopuses, baby ducks, snakes and other delicacies. But don’t worry, you can also find things to eat here – satay, Duck Pancakes, kababs among other things.

Wangfujing shopping streetThe atmosphere is lively, there are a lot of tourists around and generally good time can be had just by walking around and trying to recognize things on sticks. We would highly recommend this place even if it’s a place where probably only the tourists visit.

Forbidden City - Beijing

The Forbidden City – Beijing

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Forbidden City - BeijingIt’s bloody huge. It’s really huge. Did I tell you it’s huge. If you manage to not get lost in the palace, figuring out your way between thousands of rooms, kudos to you. There are 9999.5 rooms in the Forbidden city, all of which are not open to visitors.

Forbidden City - BeijingThe Forbidden palace is on every China Traveler’s agenda after The Great Wall. I’ve read a couple of books on Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi who was the last Empress of China. Since then I’ve been fascinated by this place.

Forbidden City - BeijingWe went in early and we expected the ticket counters to have long queues but seemed like almost everyone was either with a tour guide or had purchased tickets beforehand. We went in but not before buying an electronic guide which not only looked very pretty and snazzy but was very helpful.

Forbidden City - BeijingThe first thing we noticed was the crowd, there were so many people inside. I started thinking about our vacation pictures with herds of people in it. But you can’t really complain when you’re part of the same crowd now, can you? But you go further and the palace splits into 3 sections, that’s when the crowds start fizzling out.

Forbidden City - Beijing Forbidden City - Beijing

The electronic guide did a good job of explaining the significance of each structure. All the rooms and halls have beautiful, poetic names (Hall of Supreme Harmony, The Hall of Central Peace, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Palace of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Hall of Mental Cultivation ) and distinct purposes.

Forbidden City - Beijing

China had such a rich, fascinating and vibrant history that I feel one cannot appreciate any site fully if you don’t know the history.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train

Shanghai to Beijing…on a train!

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
When we wanted to travel to Beijing from Shanghai and were looking for options, we zeroed in on a High-Speed Railway that travels at around 300 km/h. This rail line is the world’s longest high-speed line ever constructed in a single phase. It was more expensive than the airfare but we decided to take it for the thrill of experiencing something new. And we’re ever so glad we did.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
First off, the train station is huge, it’s almost like a mini airport. In spite of the chaos  its very well managed. Even though we can’t read or speak Chinese, we didn’t have any trouble locating the boarding area. As far as we remember, there was no check-in luggage line. If you have bags, you can keep them in the train when you board in a separate place for bags. We bought the business class tickets but the second class didn’t look bad either. Considering there was no food served in the train I don’t think it matter what class you take. The seats for both classes looked comfortable except business class has more leg space.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train 901182_10151762123933999_1013490411_o

At 300 km/h we thought the world outside would be a blur but we could see very clearly and also take pictures. If you ever want to travel from Shanghai to Beijing or vice versa, do think about this option. Firstly, you don’t have to reach the place 3 hours in advance. One hour is fine. The boarding process so painless and quick. And the journey is very comfortable. All in all a very good experience.

2 girls backpacking in 1986 China

Not everyone of us can travel to every place in one lifetime. There’s another way though. Why Armchair travel of course. In this new feature I’ll be reviewing travelogues or books that give us some understanding of a particular place or culture at a particular time. I hope you have fun reading it. Today we go to 1986 China.

Undress me in the temple of heaven by sudan jane gilman
Title: Undress me in the temple of heaven
Author: Susan Jane Gilman
Genre: Travelogue, memoir
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 8, 2010)

When I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China was only recently open for travel to foreigners. We went to Shanghai and Beijing about a year back and even now, it’s very difficult to communicate because other than the hotel staff no one spoke English. We faced a bit of difficulty traveling as we had to write down the name of places in Chinese and also take the map along with us. Going anywhere impromptu was out of the question.

So when Susan and Claire decide to go travel the world for a year and choose China as their destination, I was equally fascinated and weary considering the state of the country back then.This travelogue is funny and raw and honest. Susan accepts that they both didn’t know what they were doing. They were in a land about which they knew nothing. They were afraid and lonely. I expected a typical self-absorbed backpacker travelogue where they hook up with other backpackers, have drunken nights, break the rules and finally get enlightened by the meaning of life and happiness. Continue reading