Hello guys! Many things happened while I was on hiatus so I’m going to pen them down one-by-one slowly on this space 🙂
Two weeks back I went on a tour with CTC to Beijing which marked my first holiday trip in 2012. I know many would frown upon the words “Beijing” and “Tour” because yes, I do agree that China isn’t the most ideal place to go since we already have a taste of the people here in Singapore (if you know what I mean) and that was also my initial reaction before booking the tour. BUT my 7-day stay there proved me wrong. More on that as we go along!
So why did I choose to go on a tour instead of roaming around on my own (free and easy)? Simple. I was lazy (and busy) as hell and I’m seriously bad at planning and directions and I wouldn’t want to be lost in a foreign land because of that. On top of that reason, CTC was offering a 1-for-1 promotion at that period so I thought, why not? Bf and I paid up immediately (before that I was super reluctant because of the destination, lol) for both this Beijing trip and the upcoming Taiwan trip in July, all for less than SGD1000 per person (including all relevant taxes) for an 8-day event via Singapore Airlines. What’s more, the hotel we were/are going to stay is/will be a five-star one! What a steal right? Teehee!
Bf and I were undoubtedly the youngest in the tour so naturally all attention was shone on us with many others (including the Singapore-based and Chinese tour guides) wondering why we chose China. Hahaha! But those who went with us were really really nice people which added on to the pleasant experience I was already having in Beijing. Absolutely not awkward with these older people at all while dining together. We talked and joked about everything! 🙂
On 5 April, Bf and I boarded an afternoon SQ flight at T3 and only touched down in Beijing after midnight so the tired us only visited our rooms at Sheraton Hotel that day. Let me first comment on my virgin flight with SQ! I can say I’m pretty lucky to have boarded the newer SQ plane as it’s less cramped with only 2 seats by the window (as compared to 3 in the older ones)! So less difficult to get to the toilet – hooray! And they have awesome collection of music on their entertainment system because they have Enya! Oh my, you don’t know how that helped to much in getting me to sleep soundly LOL. Sadly the older plane (which I took on my return flight) didn’t have her 😦
As weather was pretty cold there (it was towards the end of winter at that time but still chilly), the hotel felt there was no need to switch on the air-conditioner. The room wasn’t particularly stuffy but can be a little warm at times. But opening the windows slightly could do the trick. Our hotel was smacked in the middle of nowhere with no malls nearby but thank God there was a clean & reasonably-priced (still cheaper than those in Singapore) foot reflexology parlour about 7-10 minutes walk away which we could escape to after a long day outside! And there was a Hard Rock Cafe just beside the hotel which we did not visit because we were usually bloated by the time we reached our room 😦 Next time, maybe.
I shall skip the mundane parts of the trip but honestly, what made me feel not that bad about going to China (besides the awesome offer) was the chance to climb the Great Wall of China （万里长城）! It was one of the highlights of the tour and I was definitely looking forward to it :)! I’ve heard soooo much about it during Sec 1 History lesson (Burma Railway a.k.a Death Railway as well) and it’s been etched in my mind since then. And not forgetting Forbidden City （紫禁城）which I yearned to go after countless ancient Hong Kong drama I’ve watched. It was a surreal experience and I really feel that all Chinese should go on a cultural tour to Beijing at least once in their lives!
Enough of words, let the pictures do the talking!
Decided to dedicate one part of this blog entry just for The Great Wall of China to celebrate our successful climb!
But I’ve got to admit that after exploring so many historic landmarks and commercial museums I grew a little sick of it! Probably if I was some retired hag I wouldn’t mind going on a full-fledged cultural tour but nay, at my age, shopping is definitely a MUST! So we were brought to 3 major shopping destinations: Silk Market, Ya Show and Wangfujing (王府井 Beijing’s Orchard Road with established brands all over) which we spent a fortune there.
Went home broke because of Silk Market as we were.. *ashamed* ripped off. Only found out about it when we chanced upon a similar – or can I say DUPLICATE – dress, which I bought for 430RMB at Silk Market, going at 100RMB at Ya Show BEFORE PRICE-SLASHING. And worst of all, 430RMB was the price after intense bargaining with the very-persistent shop owner who initially offered to sell it to me at 1200RMB (INSANE) and also bragged about exclusivity -_- Exclusivity mah arse!! I so wanted to leave the store as I was running out of shopping time but the woman kept stopping me and praising my body shape sky-high, saying that I’d look so awesome in her maxi dress (weakness!!). HAHA but the dress is really pretty! From 1200RMB, to 800RMB, to 500RMB, to 480RMB, we finally settled upon 430RMB (she was almost on her knees, lol) which still burned a huge hole in my pocket. With such a huge leap from the original price, who would have taught that I was still overcharged? -_-
At Silk Market, shop assistants would offer you 朋友价 (literally means Friend Price) to trick you into thinking that you’ve got a very good deal. While making our purchase, we also had friendly chats with shop assistants there and surprisingly they appeared rather envious of Singaporeans. In fact before I decided to show my amiable side, I was quite worried that we’d get hostile treatment from them in return because of how *we* Singaporeans treat their people here (e.g. despising them and trying so hard to get rid of them). So I behaved like some westernized bitch and spoke English all the way, attempting to hide my nationality.. until Bf gave up comprehending them. But despite us admitting we were from Singapore in Singlish-Mandarin (you could see their faces lit up immediately like FINALLY A MANDARIN-SPEAKING ASIAN!!), they remained hospitable towards us.
Some whom we spoke to looked pretty young and they told us how much they hated English language in their schools because they struggled a lot to understand it (they only started learning at Primary 3 or 1-2 years earlier which in my opinion is a bit too late?), but nonetheless they still TRIED to speak it because of their job nature.
A tip to those who have never been to Beijing before: Never go to Ya Show after Silk Market or you’d walk out of the former feeling extremely cheated, disappointed and furious!! But I’d have to warn you that Ya Show is pretty boring with limited variety. However if you look really closely you should be able to find great apparels which Silk Market may not have (and definitely way cheaper!)
Oh oh I realized I have not talked anything about my meals in Beijing!
Took a stroll at an eatery street 15 minutes drive away (by taxi) with a few other tour mates one night..
Absolutely value for money! There were eight of us and we only paid SG$6 each for the bill (and bear in mind I only took pictures of SOME food. There were 1 or 2 more dishes which I forgot to snap pictures of as I was happily eating, haha!!)! Dirt cheap and it’s in a RESTAURANT!! Moreover there was Peking Duck which probably costed the most among the dishes we ordered. Oh gosh because of this I’m definitely going back!!
And we also caught some amazing shows! I’m probably just like you, thinking that I’d be brought to boring Chinese opera or some plays that only the elderly would enjoy but NO!! Their performances were AMAZEBALLZXSZ! Their props were like whoa, unbelievable! Makes one wonder how they hell they achieved those effects! For example:
For interested parties, that was the Golden Mask Dynasty.
The final stop before we headed to the airport to catch our flight home was the renowned high-speed railway from Tianjin to Beijing! Our coach driver brought us to Tianjin earlier for some last-minute shopping (where I got my supplies of Shan Zha Pian, yumyumz) and then to save travelling time, we took the bullet train back to Beijing and met the driver there. All it took was an hour which is the time I always take to travel from Bukit Batok to Pasir Ris (like 1/30 of the distance from Tianjin to Beijing I reckon??) -_- Oh boy how I wish MRT were as fast as this. It probably won’t happen so oh wells…
The interior of the train is pretty much like one of a plane, complete with train attendants with UNIFORMS. The passageway is just right for the merchandise/food trolleys to be pushed through. Yes, they serve titbits and beverages in there! While the train was moving we were admiring the picturesque view by the window. It felt as if my Geography textbooks had gone live as you could see rice and other plantations everywhere, lol!
Bf and I touched down in Singapore weighing 1-2kg heavier due to excessive eating in Beijing (you could see my chubbier face in most pictures anyway) and poor us had to lug our 20kg luggages + boxes of goodies back home. We let loose too much in Beijing that we ate even when our stomachs felt like they were going to explode because of the thinking that we wouldn’t be back so soon (so better gobble down as much as we could otherwise it’d be too late to regret)! So putting our newly-bought Li-Ning running shoes to good use, we ran our first rounds ever in 3-4 years and burned some calories. Whoot it felt so good sweating out those fats!!
(and then we took in a large bowl of Prawn Mee at Redhill Market later that night…)
Okay so I pretty much summarized my 8-day stay in Beijing! I don’t mind going back again if there happens to be similar promotions in the future by any tour agencies 😉 I loved what I saw in Beijing and the people there definitely conducted themselves WAY BETTER than those in Singapore! Well, except for some 北京人 who probably couldn’t get used to toilet doors so many a time I would see stuff I wouldn’t want to see -_- But having said that, though I have met nice Chinese people, I’m sorry but I’d still distance myself from the uncouth and disrespectful ones here
I’d probably go back to Beijing again (hopefully Forever21 and many other unopened stores would be ready by then!) but I would love to visit Shanghai before doing so!
And now that I’m done with my Beijing, I shall look forward to my Taiwan trip coming up in July!! Another good deal from CTC *hehehe*
Will be back with more updates on my Uni application (yes you people flocking in to view my post on NTU Linguistic application and interview last year, hope you guys got something out of it! :)) as well as my dearest Shih Tzu, Angel‘s 11th birthday celebration happening tomorrow!