As the popularity of this alleyway increases so do the crowds. Now it’s barely worth a visit unless you have friends from out of town in tow. When the new subway opens I would guess it will be nearly impossible to walk through in under an hour. But the new off shoots (mao er hutong) connecting nanluoguxiang to Houhai, the area around NLGX may become just as interesting as NLGX once was. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that more of these connections will be made in the future.
After 1 year in Beijing, I decided that I should at least see some place in Beijing. (Being a squirrel, its hard gettin around to far off places..)
Finally, I call my friend, and she and I decide to take me to the Lama Temple. Plus, I finally got a chance to finally see the Beijing Metro (hmmm!, there is no metro in my area of BeiJing.)
What can someone write about a temple, and that too here?
Very peaceful, very relaxing, very soothing, very calming for the shot nerves.
All the halls of the temple are beautiful, and I love the way Chinese try to preserve and renovate the old buildings. Many countries can learn from China :)
Try not to get ripped off by the incense-selling hawkers; and take your time. A lot of people were rushing, and you might feel urged to go with the pace. But take your own time, and just indulge in the intoxicating feeling about this place.
Last hall towards the back, has a statue, which would make some of the statues in the Wax Museum to shame! It really startled me!
I would definitely go there aagin... A must go.. for Believers and Non-believers alike!
This park offers real perspective of how Beijing was laid out so long ago. From the top of the park one can see in every direction. The forbidden city is the center of Beijing so everything branches out from it. From coal hill you can see the drum tower and front gate to the north, the Forbidden city and front gate to the south, and the locations of the east and west gate before they were demolished. More info can be found at the urban museum just a block east of Tiananmen.
Went to ice skating at Houhai last night, it reminds me the days back to my childhood. There were no bars in houhai, and the lotus lane used to be a street sells antiques, People entertained themselves by walking around the lake, ice fishing, ice skating, and winter swimming
Ticket price: 10RMB for 2 house weekdays and 15RMB for weekend and holiday. RMB 20 for rent a pair of ice skate for two hours.
The Great Wall camping trip was undoubtedly the highlight of my brief stay in China. From the word go everyone on the trip, from old China hands to new arrivals like myself, were busy getting to know each other thanks to the welcoming Local Noodles staff. Our home for the next 24 hours was the breathtaking Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall. After a brisk climb to the wall, it was time to taking the stunning scenery. No crowds and no souvenir sellers, just us and our thoughts. The evening was spent unwinding by the campfire after a hearty meal prepared by a local farmer and his wife. Next it was back to our camp for some star gazing and 損hilosophising?- the red wine did help! Overall I would go on this trip again, and will definitely recommend it to others.
This was my second camping trip with Localnoodles, and just like my first time, I had a super weekend. From the cozy bus ride to Simatai, to watching the sun set on the wall while drinking red wine - I loved every moment of it. Our excellent evening meal came courtesy of a local farmer, who lit a bonfire for us and kept the beers flowing. Like all great camping trips, the time spent by the bonfire was a chance to get to know the other people on the trip and few friendly, if ever so slightly intoxicated, Japanese hikers. After toasting to our collective good health, differing nationalities, and musical tastes, it was time to bid farewell to our new-found friends and head back to our camp for the night. The sunrise revealed the wall covered in a dense mist that was truly breathtaking. After a hearty breakfast it was time pack up camp and head off on our 4hr hike in the baking sunshine. I caught myself smiling at my reflection on the bus this morning while stuck in a traffic jam – for a few moments I was back on the wall and it felt great!
I’ve probably either hiked or camped out on the Great Wall 20 times. I find the wall an interesting juxtaposition between ancient china and its ever changing landscape. The Jinshanling and Simatai sections of the Wall have seen little change over the last few hundred years while the landscape changes both with every season and China’s economic development. Many parts of the wall have been recently restored but most of the restoration is restricted to the upper most parts. The foundation is still largely intact. Older bricks, complete with the original stamps used for quality control, are visible if you’re observant.
In spring, the weather is generally very cool with blue skies. The surrounding landscape is generally brown. If it’s very early spring, you’re likely to stumble upon icy patches which make some of the steeper parts hazardous. Summer can be especially hot but nights are cooler on the wall than in Beijing and the surrounding mountains are green. In fall the weather is cooler and dry during the day and chilly at night. In the early morning fog often rolls through the valleys spilling over the Wall. It’s beautiful to watch. Fall is more colorful than other seasons due to the changing leaves. This section doesn’t have many trees so don’t expect a full palette of colors. In the winter, the northern winds blow down from Siberia making the entire area extremely cold and inhospitable. The best time to visit during the winter is when it snows.
The section I’ve hiked the most is the Jinshanling to Simatai “circuit” because of the facilities and transportation available at each end as well as the sweeping views along the way. The total distance between the two locations is approximately 10 km. but because of some of the very steep ascents and decants it feels longer. Generally, a person in average shape can make it from one end to the other in about 4-5 hours. During the hottest summer months don’t forget to take lots of water – you’ll need it. There are people that will sell you drinks along the way however they tend to be in the middle parts not in the end where you’ll probably be most thirsty. Either way, one can never depend on them. Pack a lunch to make the hike really enjoyable.
The best time to go is during the change of seasons. The temperature is much nicer especially for a rigorous hike and visibility is generally very good. In August there are too many mosquitoes and it’s extremely hot. Also during the hottest months visibility is more often hazy and overcast.
Perhaps the best reason to choose this section of the wall over some of that of Badaling or Mutianyu is the lack of tourism. That’s not to say there isn’t any tourism rather you can avoid the comparatively small crowds by starting your hike very early. If on your hike you really want to have the Wall all to yourself then arrive by 6:30-7:00am. By the time you finish your hike the tourists will just start to arrive.
To get there you’ll either have to rent a car or take a bus. If you don’t speak Chinese taking a bus will be a challenge because the bus will only take you to Huairou and from there a private van or car must be rented to take you the final distance. Very few of the people along the way speak English. The bus ticket is set but the car rental is not so negotiation will be necessary. If you start out at Jinshanling and hike to Simatai it’s easier to find transportation back to the city. Going the opposite way is not only a more difficult hike but it’s also very hard to find transportation back to the Beijing once you’ve finished.
If you have the luxury of visiting the Wall different times of the year it’s really worth the trip.
You can read all about Tiananmen’s history in those heavy guide books. I’ll summarize by stating that it is a must see. Like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, Tiananmen and everything around Tiananmen has been built on a grand scale - the wide avenues that frame the square, Zhongnanhai to the west, the museums to the east, the front gate to the south and the Forbidden City to the north. Standing in the middle of Tiananmen for the first time is an amazing feeling. “Yes, you’re in China…” your inner voice says. One can’t help but look to the north at Chairman Mao’s portrait and know that you are here. To the right of the portrait, “Long Live the Great Unity of the People of the world” and to the right, “Long Live the People’s Republic of China”. This is a very important place in modern China not only because it marks the entrance to the Forbidden City but also because it was here that in 1949 Chairman Mao first announced the establishment of The People’s Republic of China. Therefore, it is there that tourist should be most respectful. Plain clothes policemen are everywhere to maintain the peace. One sign of trouble and they are on it faster than you can say “no I don’t want to buy more socks.” I’ve lived in China for a year now and I regularly visit Tiananmen. For morning people stop by at dawn for the national flag raising ceremony. Everyone else can catch the flag lowering ceremony at dusk. Both are done across the street from the Forbidden City south gate. Hope this information helps.
Last month I had a tour in China, Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. It is such a gorgeous tour for me and it is just I have dreamed! I would like to share with you all my experience in the wonderful country. The first city I visited is the capital Beijing. As I came in the Spring Festival time so there are so many colorful lights and festival decorations on the street, they are interesting, especially the little red handmade lantern! My favorite attraction in Beijing is Forbidden City! It is something you should not miss when visiting Beijing. It is an incredible part of China’s history and the architecture is beautiful. I love the palaces, the golden roof and red wall stand out each other! The column and items in the palace is delicate and amazing, but visitor could only see them out of the door. I spent almost a whole day with the knowledgeable guide Nancy from chinaholidays.com in the Forbidden City, she gave many helpful explanation and guide, and otherwise I would have not understood the meaning and sign of this ancient palace museum! Besides Forbidden City, I have also visited Summer Palace, Great Wall, Hutong and Panda Hall and other interesting places with Nancy! Hope you all have a wonderful trip in China just like me!
I make a point of going to Beijing’s parks as often as possible. As little as 5 years ago they were in an awful state but thanks to the Olympics (I guess), and a more aware populace, the parks now are not only well maintained but also better respected by visitors. Beihai, Qianhai and Houhai get a lot of flack but I think they are wonderful areas to relax and get away from the city. Beihai is great in the summer. The mature trees provide ample shade from the intense heat and there are lots of places that you and your friends can find to have a picnic or just lay around leisurely reading books. It’s always fun to take out a boat on the lake as well. Yes, it’s a bit silly to rent a duck boat and paddle around but it’s also really fun and affords great views of the temple and surrounding park areas. Houhai is the area that gets the most criticism and for good reason. The touts are annoying and it can be chaotic especially at night. Nevertheless, you should go at least once. It’s a sight. There are a few good bars and restaurants (East Shore Jazz, Nuage, and Hutong Pizza come to mind) but most are a disappointment. Most of us only visit Houhai at night thus associate it with touts and chaotic crowds. But Houhai is more than just the touts, bars and restaurants. In the morning or afternoon Houhai is much more pleasant. Ice skaing in the winter - Beijing style - is something everyone should do at least once. In the summer the willow trees and musicians practicing by the waterside can be quite nice, if not relaxing. Mornings are peacefully calm and a perfect time to walk around the water’s edge, take photos, and get a feel for the area before the city wakes. In the summertime renting a boat can be fun but only in the shichahai area. Getting from the lower area (Qianhai) past the bridge to the upper area (Houhai) can be a bit nerve racking. I prefer Beihai for renting boats. My favorite part of the Qianhai / Houhai area is Houhai or the area north of the bridge. At least for now it’s more residential with alley ways to discover, photograph, and get lost in. There are also a lot of well preserved courtyards and historical points of interest there as well. If you always thought Houhai was for tourist, give it another chance and try it at different times of the day. There is a lot to like and always new things to discover.
it seems almost sacrilegious not to love unconditionally something like 798- an eclectic zone of creativity free from the commercial and controlling excesses of its surrounding environment. Well sort of anyway. The limiting factor for me has 3 components:
A) 'Art' seems like the emperors new clothes- I dont get why a dead animal in formaldehyde is considered art.
B) Alot of the 'art' at 798 reminds me of the crappy oil paintings my auntie used to do.
C) Art is just like Golf- a con that rich white people use to voluntarily distance themselves from the little people. i.e. If you dont get it then you dont belong.
So I'm a cynic to begin with and hence I struggle to 'connect' with the vision of the artistes and have a 'theater in my head' moment.
Getting that all out the way, 798 is still a great half day excursion, especially in the warmer months. There's plenty of exhibitions to check out and some very nice cafe's to get some lunch. Its a brilliant concept that is a vital counterbalance for Beijing- something opposing all the modernization of the city and the rush to out-bling your peers. And perhaps one day I will learn to appreciate art.
Yet Sanlitun can be the premier area to have some fun but never the best. An usual place to start or finish the parties, Sanlitun is still one of the most uncomfortable places to be! extra drunk people, fights, thieves, awful and dirty food around, useless police, more thieves, more fights... Unknown people asking you: Yo what's up? what do you need?, more thieves, more fights... Really, Sanlitun was a good place. Now is a place where is not fun to be.
There are so many things to see in Beijing, especially of historical and cultural interest, so this 'poor old tower' tends to get overlooked. I however, do think it is worth a visit, especially if you're stuck in Beijing and not particularly interested in all things ancient.
The CCTV tower not surprisingly is the home of many TV and Radio station broadcasts, including CCTV1 thru CCTV9. From the top you can see a wide view of the western area of Beijing, like the whole new CCTV Tower, the Olympic Stadium and all kind of non-environmental industries on the West side...
There are two levels to the tower. One is for outdoor observation, another is revolving restaurants which is not too expensive, but not too fancy either. The first one is incredible. When you're going out of the lift, you will immediately understand that you're very high... For sure you will find your home with the free telescope...
At the base of the tower and across the main road you will find a rather pretty little park. Here you can rent boats or just stroll along the shore. From the park you can get a great view, and picture of the tower in all its glory. At night it is illuminated to some degree.
If you want to discover Beijing with a new point of view, go to this place.
The CCTV tower is probably one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen. I cannot imagine inside will be that great a place to work because of the elaborate infrastructure that blocks natural light from entering but that’s just my guess. Nicknamed the "big underwear", it appears to hang over the highway despite being located 1/2 a block east of the highway. Although most views impress, in my opinion the best is from the north bound third ring road.
The new CCTV tower, international opera house, water cube, bird's nest, and a host of other newly constructed buildings should be on every tourist's "must see" lists.
I generally hate going to fancy places that make food look nice but leave me so hungry I have to swing by the jianbing stand on my way home.
I generally hate forking out loads of money for service instead of good food. I have hands so I can wipe my own mouth. I have arms so I can pour my own water. I am able bodied so I don't need anyone laying napkins on my lap etc..
But ahh... Maison Boulud.. the lunch is excellent value for what you get. The portions are elegant. The freebies like the little madelines and the petit fours are perfect. I haven't ever gone home hungry. And I've never had anyone hover over me like I have no arms.
I've only treated myself to Maison Boulud 3 times. Each time the experience is near perfect. The dinner menu is pretty exy - so go at lunch or on the weekend for the brunch. It's as good as BJ gets.
Thanks to the localnoodles newsletter, I heard that it was possible to find tickets to visit the Olympic Stadium this weekend. So, I bought 6 places for my roommates and me, using the website http://www.piao.com.cn. By the way, this website is great (they are delivering tickets at home!).
For 50 Kuai each, we visited the “Bird Nest” for more than 3 hours on Saturday morning. It was just amazing! Not finish yet, this stadium is already totally original. I don’t have any tickets for the Olympic games, but I hope to find some because I want to go back over there!
In a few weeks, I think it will be possible to move around the stadium and enjoy the place. To finish, have a look at pictures, they are great!