Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beijing Trip May 2013

Peking duck.
Simply awesome, that is all I can say about our recent holiday to Beijing, China. With some trusty guide books (2 books actually, light weight to carry around) and a subway map, we made our way to Beijing during the start of their summer, and made the most out of it.

Temple of Heaven
I've heard a lot of stories about China, especially about their toilets. How everyone tells me the filth and terrible conditions, and to bring your own toilet roll as well! Well this trip proved to me that China, or at least Beijing, has come a long way. I had no issues with the public restrooms there, even at tourist hot spots. The restrooms were kept clean as there was always a janitor cleaning it constantly. Most doors has proper locks (had only one experience where there was no lock), occasionally I came across some ladies who had left the door slightly ajar while doing their business (I'm guessing it's still part of their culture, and these ladies could be from the more rural parts of China, who are here visiting the capital). I didn't carry a toilet roll with me, I much prefer to do my big business in the comfort of my hotel room before making my journey out the door. But just in case, I had in my knapsack tissue papers and toilet seat covers.

The Forbidden City
The Chinese still sometimes spit on the ground, again it's been part of their culture for centuries, although I think the younger generation don't really do that anymore, the same can't be said for the older generation. It's a rude thing for most of us, but to the Chinese, it's a normal thing.

Taken at Zhengyangmen/Qianmen (literally means 'Front Gate').
Beijing is also pretty clean, as we spotted cleaners and rubbish pickers everywhere. I'm guessing the Beijingers now take pride in trying to keep the place clean now, and it's good to see the effort from them. Even the hutongs are clean! Expect to see some rubbles, as hutongs are the old narrow alleys and courtyard residences of noblemen during Beijing's glorious past. There is rubble, but no rubbish. The hutong restrooms make a good experience. No doors, holes next to each other, quite a shocker for most tourists heh! Unless you really have to go, I suggest you hold it until you get to a proper public toilet or hotel.

The iconic Bird's Nest.
The subways are simply the best, every tourist hot spot we wanted to go to (except for the Ming tombs and the Great Wall) can be reached via the subway lines. At two yuan (RM 1) per way, you can ride the subway and change multiple lines. Everything is so well connected, it makes planning your itinerary really easy. You just need a subway map, identify the locations you want to go to and the nearest subway station to that location, and make your way there. And because there's English signages, the subways are pretty tourist-friendly. We were not the only ones holding on to a subway map, many of the local Chinese from other parts of China were also discovering Beijing.

You haven't been to China until you've scaled the Great Wall.
Everything was simply super-sized, and I think that's what the Chinese likes. Majestic, huge, gigantic, humongous, the key tourist destinations are only but a glimpse of Beijing's rich and glorious past. If you're planning a trip to Beijing one day, get a good guide book and carry a subway map, and you're pretty much ready to go.

For more images of our Beijing trip, click here, and look under the tab Beijing Trip 2013.