Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
35Trip End Mar 01, 2011
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Beijing had vastly changed since we were here in 2001, mass development, huge shopping malls and high skyscrapers. Tourist numbers appear to have increased both national and international and there is still many great sights old and new to visit
Beijing (old Peking) Duck – Dadong banquet.
No trip to Beijing would be complete without sampling the famous crispy (Peking) duck. We had read good reviews about restaurants named Dadong, so armed with our maps and guide book we headed to our hotel concierge to ask for directions. Our hotel staff did not speak great English so I was little confused when they took me by the arm and led me through the main front doors and just pointed across the road, to my surprise we were staying just across from one of the very restaurants!. So saving on the cab fare we crossed the road for lunch, arriving much earlier than planned. As we stepped out of the lift we were greeted by a line of waiting staff and chefs' all welcoming us loudly and speaking in Chinese, Anne was so startled and shocked she tried to reverse back into the closed lift doors. The restaurant was a bit of a theatrical show kitchen; one can personally select their own duck, and watch it being roasted by the chefs in the open centre of the restaurant in one of four huge wood burning ovens. Our meal consisted of:
- Half a super lean roasted duck, with all the condiments, including sesame buns and pancakes
- Sautéed scallops with sweet corn
- Charcoaled grilled neck fillet of pork
- Sautéed venison with pineapple
- Sautéed baby bean sprouts
- Steamed rice
You will see from the photos that it is customary to serve the split duck head and brain as a delicacy, Piglet was a bit squeamish (or should that be squealish…!) so I did the honours. The taste was not as bad as one may think, a little like duck pate, and another first to add to my growing list.
Forbidden City now re-branded Palace Museum.
The Forbidden City has been re-named the Palace Museum; I guess the original name did not exactly encourage the local population to visit. It is still extremely impressive and well worth visit, it was very busy and weather was overcast the day we went.
Tiananmen Square – lowering the flag ceremony at sunset.
Another must see when in Beijing, we waited twice with the large crowds to watch the lowering of the flag ceremony at sunset. A very formal military parade, a bit like the changing of the guards, happens every evening to lower and escort the flag to bed.
2008 Olympic Birds nest stadium and the Water Cube.
Much of Beijing's development was for the 2008 Olympics and still many of the signs and displays refer to those games. We had a great day visiting the hugely impressive Birds nest stadium and iconic Water Cube. The stadium is open to paying visitors and has video footage of the 2008 games playing on the huge screens as you stroll around. Part of the Water Cube has been turned into the biggest and most impressive water park we had seen, slides, rafts, water shoots, water cannons, wave machines, video wall and cafes – most of the locals were wearing bright orange life jackets, we assume not many can actually swim. The main competing pool was currently boarded over and hosting a Russian ballet theatre, so we could not get to see it.
Great wall at Mutianyu.
We had visited the Great Wall previously on a tour in 2001 but had been disappointed with the small touristy section to which we had been taken. This time we did our own research and booked a car with driver to take us to the Great wall at Mutianyu, and wow was it impressive! Our driver advised us to leave early (well 7.00am - early for us travellers…) to beat the crowds and miss the midday heat, this turned out to be excellent information
We danced with locals in the parks at the temple of heaven, played a type Badminton with funny hard bats and a feather shuttlecock, caught and threw weighted sand balls with special soft covered rackets, played "keepy uppy" with a local plastic weighted puck with feathers out the top
We also visited - The Temple of Heaven, Bell & Drum Towers, The old local Hutongs (old traditional Beijing dwellings), Houhai Lake Area, Silk Market, The Summer Palace and the very pretty Beihai Park.
We also had a great authentic Xinjiang Muslim meal at the Crescent Moon,which can be found down an interesting Beijing Hutong; we ordered excellent chunky mutton & lamb kebabs served with home made yoghurt and nan bread, with a spicy green bean dish that nearly blew our heads off!
A great stay was had in Beijing, as we packed and prepared for Tokyo, Japan.
Nick on behalf of varnamtravels.