It was quite a day in Beijing visiting the Forbidden City, walking around in Wangfujing and Silk Street. It was actually just a few places in a very short time. That first night in Beijng, dinner was on our own, not provided. That was totally okay with us and it was already mentioned in the itinerary list. We ventured out of our far flung three-star hotel. We saw a shopping complex within the walking distance when we were heading back to the hotel. We walked on our own as there was no public transport to be found or seen. It was a cold 20 minutes walk. Thank God for all the thick and woolly clothing. We were walking in the negative temperature but it was kind nice. No sweat. Dinner wasn't that great but I modified the taste on the table itself. The dessert was tasteless so I asked for a small plate of sugar and for the tasteless dishes, I added salt and mix them around. It turned out to be great. Beijing lack of salt and sugar? The two main food enhancer...
3-D movie with Pinky~!!
Movie~! Pinky has wanted to watch a movie with me. That's what we did in Melbourne and Penang. We love watching movie and Pinky always can't find the right person to watch a movie with until I came along. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I've not watched it back home and thank God the movie was in English and it was way much cheaper than in other cinema. 3-D movie at 50 yuan instead of 120yuan in other cinemas. By the time we finish watching the movie, we were quite sad that the finish ended and we had to walk home. We had to wake up at 6:30a.m. the next day and both of us were night owls.
Next, we stopped at the Silk Market. I thought they only sell silk so I wouldn't bother getting down the bus. But they weren't selling silk. There's no silk in there at all. We were given another 40 minutes to shop around the place. It was a shopping haven and I don't mind spending the whole day there, brushing up my price-haggling skills. There were so many things from handbags to purses to t-shirts to shoes.. just so many things to buy and so many foreigners.
Those were the salesgirls who didn't look friendly at all. They were very aggressive people and it shocked me how they did business. I bought two Adventure of Tin Tin's t-shirt for my hubby. Just for that two normal t-shirts the girl took out her calculator and showed me 480yuan. Our eyes almost popped out of the sockets. We didn't walk away from the shop, we made a dash out of it. We felt that we have been robbed in the daylight. The girl came chasing after us and held me by my elbow. She had her calculator with her. She punched the numbers and showed me 260yuan. I wriggled myself free from her grasp and walked away again. She caught hold of my arm now and asked me to name a price. I showed her the 5-finger sign. I would only pay 50 yuan for two t-shirts. She said that was impossible. So we walked away again. This time round, she didn't want us to walk away. She dragged me back to her shop and Pinky had to follow. If I was one aggressive person myself, I would have punch her and push her away for holding me. But I was enjoying the drama. She stabbed on her calculator with her index finger. She showed us 180yuan. I shook my head, telling her 50yuan. Then she begged that I increased my price to 130yuan which I objected. The price went down to 90yuan and I still insisted on my price. In the end, after at least 20 minutes, I got my two t-shirts for only 50yuan.
That's the power of being able to bargain. Stand firm on your price. Decide on a price. For example if you want a shirt, try to think whether the item is worthy of that price then reduce it by half in your head because all those are not original items neither they were fake items. They were just imitation goods. There's a difference between a fake item and an imitation good. A fake item is when you see a Nike shoes but you see that the 'tick' sign has been turned the other way round or the spelling has been purposely misspelled. An imitation good is when the item looks 100% like that of the original but there were two possibilities why the goods ended up at such cheap market. First, it might be the factories purposely over-produced whatever the original orders were, then those extras were released into the black market so that it wouldn't have to go through custom, made sense? Secondly, some of those items were rejected after failing the quality check. The rejections may not be obvious for example the sewing of the inner lining may have one of the threads jumping out of tempo. There is the possibility where the factories involved in making those branded stuff were crooked people and since they have the mould and the skills to produce the branded stuff, they just produced it to earn big bucks.
Therefore, if you ever shop in the land of my forefathers, please brush up your bargaining skills or else you would be tricked into parting with large amount of money. I bought my mom a Prada bag in Luohu. The initial price was 1300yuan and because we were very tired with all those bargaining, we pulled the price down to 350yuan. We kinda regretted it after that, we should have named the price at 200yuan and then increased it to 250yuan and made that the final call. The drama that I went through, it turned out to be the same in EVERY place whether is it in Beijing or Shenzhen... totally same. Oh, one more thing, the sellers in Silk Market can understand English, Russian and the Malay Language. Those people in business they can understand English but mostly pretend not to understand. Be careful what you say in front of them.
Wangfujing. Shopping street. All the imported brands. From Nike Beijing to Zara to GAP. We were both enjoying walking together. Most people will not be able to understand that we hardly have any time to spend together, just giggling like any other girls. We don't even gossip. We were busy sharing about events in our lives. So the 40 minutes given by the tour guide for us to walk around on our own, we spent that time really well by walking along the streets, just passing by all the shops, snapping as many photos as possible pretending that we really enjoyed shopping there. In actual situation, we didn't even go into the shops. We only made it as far as standing at the entrance door.
There was a huge bear along the street. I like that big bear. I don't know... I just love to snap photos with large figurines but not hideous ones. Pinky likes it too. It takes two to tango and we do have many things in common but we have far greater things in the complete opposite. I love reading but she fall asleep looking at words. I love to eat chicken while she loves to eat vegetables. I like to be up early during holidays to go to places and make full use of my time while most of her mornings went missing in dreamland.
We did enter into Zara. I backed off the moment I saw the price tag of the discounted item. I couldn't remember what was I holding, a jacket if not mistaken. It was so expensive I would rather wear a gunny sack to keep myself warm. How on earth could anyone afford such expensive items? Even if I can afford, I would choose to use that money for other more important things.
Our 40 minutes ended too soon but we have gotten ourselves the full version of Beijing's map. It's highly unlikely that we would have any time to explore the whole city on our own but we definitely planned to do that in future... just the two of us without any tour guide. We will definitely find our way around.
Beijing has a very weird taste for food. The food at the government-owned restaurant tasted so bad, we ran out of place after shoving a few chopsticks full of rice into the mouth. I lose my appetite the moment I smell the food. We ran out and went for a walk on our own. We had no idea when the tour guide would ask everyone to board the bus and leave. He can't be leaving without us. We had a new friend tagging along. Next to the building where we had our lunch, there was a street so much alive and we thought there would be something good for us to snack on. There were so many stalls selling finger food. There were hot buns but I have a feeling that the buns just looked nice in the outward appearance. Taste wise, I wouldn't dare to even try. It wasn't cheap so I would not want to throw my money away into the dustbin. And then, all of sudden, I was about to buy the 'mua chee' because I do love 'mua chee' but after looing at that huge yellow sweetcake, again, I lose my appetite. I couldn't imagine myself chewing on a piece of that sweetcake. Then, all of a sudden, I was eee-ing and saying yer yer yucks yer... eewwweeeee.... and thank God my stomach wasn't that full or I would have contributed my lunch in the middle of the busy street. That stall and more stalls to come were selling all sorts of creepy crawlies. I thought only Thailand is selling this kinda stuff how come Beijing has it as well? Are any of these countries facing the shortage of poultry and seafood? Was that the tree worms from Sarawak? Look at those scorpions... you can buy the black grilled scorpions... or if you are daring enough, you could get the live baby scorpions as seen below. They were wriggling their tails even with the stick sticking out of their body. Oh, please... and eating starfish? Wouldn't the starfish regenerate inside a person's stomach? I think I fail in understanding biology... you mean to say that our gastric juice, which consists of hydrochloric acid, is acidic enough to dissolve the starfish? And what about the poison from the scorpion's sting? And wasn't seahorse used in making tonic soup? What on earth was going with people there? I can accept the sale of honeycomb. I've tried that in Cameron Highlands... then we were both dizzy from walking along the food street.
Some of the traders were not friendly. Some of them could speak English as well but really rotten one just to do business. There were other stalls selling stuff like what I usually see in our morning market or night market.
Oh, you know what those were? A whole stick of sticky sweet fruits. I thought it was something like marshmallow. If they were marshmallow then I would gladly savour them but sad to say, once bitten, considered disgusting. I have no idea what kinda fruit but the fruits were really sour. Thanks Pinky dear for getting it for me but sad to say, you will have to finish it up on your own which she gladly did.
Come... let me be your virtual tour guide to the Forbidden City. First of all, anyone wants to guess why was the emperor's palace called a Forbidden City? No answer from anyone... it's okay. I'll help you with the explanation. The entire palace was like a city on it's own with all sorts of entertainment, there were fresh supplies of food everyday so no one from the royal family would need to get out of this place to do grocery shopping. It was forbidden to the commoners outside the palace. No one should enter unless he or she has a really important message to convey to the emperor himself or risk getting his head and his family members' chopped off. That was the barbaric era throughout the whole world, not only in China. Please don't say that America is not a barbaric country because if you would have looked through your history facts, America has not been found by Christopher Columbus yet at that point of time. Okay... let's go back to the story of the Forbidden City. That place was so big and it was only one-tenth of the palace ground being opened for public. You would need two hours, doing brisk walking and snapping photos like you're a professional. Walk and snap, walk and snap... What you are looking at now, the picture above, was the courtyard of the palace. If you've winced your eyes, you would have seen three sets of steps. The emperor would be using the one in the middle while his dignitaries and consorts would be using the steps on the left and right. Underneath those large stones, the underground soil has been dug out and filled with concrete slabs to prevent the enemies from being moles and start digging from the underground into the palace. There would be palace guards guarding the whole place around the clock. Security was so tight, no one would dare to sneeze or even fart. That was the emperor's golden throne. I wonder where did the empress sit or was she suppose to stand by his side? That throne was made of real gold. Now, stop staring at that golden throne, instead, take a look at the ceiling. When this place was being renovated, the villagers from the I-don't-know-what's-it's-name village were commanded to make the bricks. The bricks were different from the rest of the red bricks that you and I know of. Everyday, only two villagers were allowed to enter and to place the bricks on the ceiling. The brick would be tested to see whether there were impurities in the mixture or whether there were any air bubbles. If either one was found or both were found, the brick which has the name of the maker bored on it, that particular brick-maker and his entire household, including distant relatives would have their life ended without argument or any court hearing. I have a fascination for the palace's door. They were so tall and huge but I wouldn't want this kinda door in my house. I would have difficulty banging it down when I want to show my temper. Next, let's proceed to the Hall of Clocks. I was very surprised to find that almost all the clocks in the museum were given by England. What kinda relationship was England having with China? How come I've never read about them? And why did England keep on giving clocks? Wasn't it a taboo to give clocks as gifts? It's like sending the receiver away on the day of his funeral. I would really love to know what kinda relationship was England having with China at that point of time. I am very curious right now. Then, there was this Nine Dragon Screen Wall... I know I'm trying to be your virtual tour guide but I, myself, do not know the purpose of having that screen wall. Maybe it was for entertainment purposes where you will need to stand in front of the wall and imagine that the dragons were fighting each other. There must be a story behind the screen wall... but I went behind the screen wall and there was nothing but concrete slabs. Let's go to the Palace Museum. It was mainly the showcase of what the empress kept as her collection. The empress has a large amount of carved jades, tiaras of all sorts of coloured stones and also the mother of all pearl necklace and a large diamond that shone so brightly, you would be blinded for a minute. I wasn't kidding. It was really blindingly blinking away. Hey, why did that design look like that of a mosque? Geez... I wasn't even sure what reason was there to the ceiling design. I just know that I have had the opportunity to look at the royal seals with hideous designs as the seal holder. I wonder why they have to look worse than gargoyles. Even the rat looked like that of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' karate master. Oh, the crowd... they were all in my group actually. There were 23 of us. ALL of them were very kind to me except for the tour guide. They made sure there I wasn't missing from the group and they just need to identify my wolf-head among the crowd. How cool they were. This was my first time following a tour group and Pinky and I have no skills at all in getting into tempo with the rest of the group. We were seen running like two mad hatters, trying to follow in line but we fall out of line no matter how hard we tried. I gave up running after them on the second day. I know there would be a lot of people looking for me if I went missing, so I couldn't be bothered and in the end most of them followed my tempo instead of the tour guide's. I'm a good tour guide, right, even if it's just virtual. If I'm really a tour guide, I know everyone will have a great holiday... too bad, I'm not a tour guide. I will be the one touring instead of guiding. I know I made a difference to the people in my group... it was all about impacting lives... Anyway, it was a great experience entering the Forbidden City, if given a choice, I wouldn't want to join a tour group anymore, it would be my first and last time. We were only given 2 hours and if I was there alone I would take the whole day walking around the Forbidden City....
First of all, I would like to thank you for stalking my blog at all the odd times in the world. Saw you... from Taoyuan, Hunan, China... using Linux. I was just thinking, if the whole blogger has been blocked since I, myself, couldn't even go an inch near to my own blog when I was in China, how did you manage to stalk my blog everyday, a few times at some days. If you're an honest reader, then I welcome you, anyway there's no way to stop you since this is a public blog. But if you're working for the important people, searching for anything that might tarnish the name of your country due to my honest writings based on my very own experience, then you just have to endure reading it. No harm done... and if you're willing, please do share with me how did you manage to come to my blog. Is it because you're using Linux or you're using a software to escape the nation's firewall? Or it is just plain simple that you're a spy??? Just wondering... Lastly, thank you for being a diligent reader. At least I have ONE visitor from China when it has always been ZERO from China...
That was the day I made history, my personal history by setting foot on the square where the massacre that killed hundreds of people in 1989 happened. Seriously, when I was there I couldn't understand what the hoo-haa was all about. It was just a square, an empty place suitable for peaceful demonstrations to be held. Pinky and I were excited as well no doubt it was cold. The sun wasn't helping at all. There was no heat from the sun. I wonder was that the same sun that shone brightly and sent oven-hot heat to Malaysia. Frankly speaking, I was so excited, I was in a snapping frenzy, snapping at almost the same things over and over again, thinking that the buildings behind me would adjust itself a little here and there. That was our tour guide. I couldn't remember his name. On the first day of our tour, he gave us a really good impression of himself. He was very good with history-telling but I was one lousy listener. Almost at every minute, when I thought I could really understand, then he added a few idiomatic phrases here and there which made me see question marks spilling out from the sky and falling all over the place. In the end, I decided not to pay much attention to what he was saying, whatever Chinese words that chose to enter the ears and went straight to the brain, those were the words that I could remember. I thought I can come back and write a really good post on Beijing, with all the histories, the folklore's and whatnot's.... but come to think about it, if you really want a detailed history of the place, wikipedia has everything there. That stone monument erected out of nowhere in the middle of the square was the Monument of the People's Heroes. I think there were names printed on the monument of the fallen soldiers during the Tiananmen Square Massacre... was that so? Sorry if it was the wrong information but I heard that the square was too empty, so a fengshui master asked Chairman Mao to erect a monument right there. Fengshui masters play important roles in the construction of buildings in the land of my forefathers. That was the Great Hall of the People. In our tour list, we were supposed to be touring in that place but sad to say, on that day, a major meeting was held where all the government top guns were there, having a really major discussion over the election of the new Chairman. I don't even know who was the next chairman after the death of the great tyrant Mao Zedong. I read his biography and you should read 'The Wild Swans' to understand what happened in China during the reign of Chairman Mao. Hey, I'm not talking about the country, it's the history of the country and it can be found in printed copies. The major meeting has been going on for two days so too bad, we couldn't go in there. I wasn't complaining though. That was the National Museum of China. It wasn't in the list of places to visit neither do I want to visit the museum if everything was written in Chinese. The museum looked kind big from the outside, if I were to have a walk in the museum, it would take me the whole day. I saw the translation of Tian'anmen Square as the Gate of Heavenly Peace. It was just outside the Forbidden City. It seems that the people of the country worshipped the ground that the former Chairman walked on. He was remembered and to be remembered. His body was embalmed at the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. It was a failed embalming of the corpse unlike that of another wealthy lady in China. That lady's corpse was not decomposed but Mao Zedong's body was decomposed due to too much usage of chemicals. Therefore, if ever you visited the Mausoleum and see that you're not able to enter due to some renovation work in progress, which happened once too frequent enough, it was because the professionals need to change the traditional medicine used to fill up as the internal organs. That was what the tour guide said. Hey, my Chinese wasn't that bad until I couldn't understand a single word. I just can't read and write. I can understand pretty well. If I have quoted wrongly regarding this matter, please go look for the tour guide who told us that story. It's nice to see the flag of the country raised high in the sky. The traffic congestion in Beijing was really bad. Thank God that the we were not stuck in the traffic jam for hours without moving an each.
Which part of Beijing did we stay? Both of us have no idea. We can read the map but if you look at Beijing's map, it seems like Beijing's map was so much more complicated than studying the world map. We had no idea which part of the world were we at neither do we know where the metro station was. We reached our hotel at 1:40 a.m. and we had to wake up early and get ready to leave at 7:30 a.m. I was wondering where the restaurant was so that we could have our breakfast. When I woke up, my question of where to go for breakfast was answered with someone rapping on the door. Beijing people have weird Chinese accent, like every word was staccato-ed. I saw a trolley with lots of oily plastic bags and when she asked how many people, I said two and the lady shoved me two oily plastic bags of food. I thought it was such good room service until Pinky told me that's our breakfast. You see, I don't like to waste food, but Beijing food was just so horrible that I had to apologize to the food for dumping them straight into the dustbin. There was something totally different with the egg. I'm a chicken and egg-lover so I'm very sensitive when these two dishes were spoilt. That was just hard-boiled egg but it tasted so powdery and it was hard to swallow. I almost choked on the dry egg. The 'siao long pao' my my... the ingredients stank like some dead animal found in a pitch dark hole. They used too much chives and I can't stand the smell and was that pork inside or some other kind of meat? We were suppose to hurry up and get ourselves ready so that we wouldn't be the last one to board the tour bus. Pinky asked me to open the hotel window at the side to test the temperature. Wow... I didn't know I'm a thermometer. I haven't have a glimpse of Beijing, the capital city of China. To my horror, I was staring at a big pile of rubbish. Don't they have rubbish bin to throw it in. Penang is so much cleaner than this. We have the metro train map with us but we didn't where we were at that point of time. Anyway, we were joining the tour group, paid for it, so we wouldn't be walking the massive city on our own. But you know us, we are very good in exploring on our own. I have no skills in taking orders and following instructions and Pinky just loved to walk around to get familiar with the surroundings. It took us half an hour to dress up. I have my leopard-furry-tights inside, a thick woolly half-leg covering, my woolly socks, my new furry boots, Judz' sheep long sleeves, my paper thin t-shirt, a woolly jacket and that thick insulated red jacket, the woolly bright red scarf and Loki on my head. I have no vocabulary to describe winter wear. Pardon my woolly description. I only know that Malaysia is 365 days hot, hotter and hottest. Loki is my American Facebook friend's husky and because I have no access to Facebook and I miss my little doggie at home, I bought that furry friend on my head to cover the losses that I've felt. I don't care how much it cost, I just wanted it to feel at home. Pinky and I went out of the hotel building half an hour earlier. There were so many stalls selling piping hot paos and noodles. We wanted to buy some but we were afraid that the food was horrible then it would be a waste of money. Both of us carried very limited cash because we were reminded time and again by her mom not to bring too much cash. We were warned about the tasteless food in Beijing, how horrible it would be. I've tasted food that was not delicious back home but I didn't know that Beijing food was more horrible than that. I was fasting for the few days that I was in Beijing. I've never fasted before because I love food, but I just couldn't swallow anything, not even the white rice. The smell of the food wasn't inviting at all... I ran whenever I smell Beijing's food. At that point of time, I was salivating over Shunde's delicious cuisine and thanking God for Pinky's grandma for cooking such wonderful dishes. And I thank God for my ability to cook very delicious food, thank God that I'm from Penang, thank God that I don't have to live in Beijing or I would be stick-thin. The temperature in Beijing was 6-degree Celsius on the first day that we were there.
I still remember how rushing it was after getting off from the bullet train. We had to take the metro train and walked home. We hadn't pack our luggage, yet and we were craving for grandma's cooking. Thank God grandma cooked earlier. We reached home at 6 p.m. and we had to meet the rest of the tour group at 7 p.m. at the airport. We were half walking and half running back to the metro station. The airport was 17 stops away and the subway was over-crowded, after work hours human jam. The tour guide was calling Pinky because we definitely couldn't make it at 7 p.m. We ran the moment we hopped out of the subway. Oh, how we ran and ran. We ran to the airport building which was freakingly so far away. We were at building A only to realize that we should be at building B, so we had to run all the way back and head to the other end of the building. When we reached there, we couldn't find anyone standing in group. We thought we have missed them. How could that be? Suddenly, a rounded man came over. He was our tour guide. We were gonna board Shenzhen Airlines. Even Pinky has never been on board this plane. Let me share with you something. If you always complain that AirAsia sucks because of flight delays, wait till you fly domestically in China... that really suck. Our flight was 8:30 p.m. and I was thinking to myself, why the heck the tour guide rushed us and made us feel like we're dragging until the whole group was late. No doubt we were the last to arrive but come on, we were two professional airplane passengers. As if the plane would take off an hour earlier. Wasted all our energy on running. Our delicious dinner got burnt off unnecessarily and we were both hungry again. Yay~! My air ticket~!! And I got window seat~!!!!! That's the best of everything. I needn't have to pay extra. At least there was some view no doubt it was as bright as Melbourne. Shenzhen was the worst. Pitch darkness... always dark... saving electricity when the country is using nuclear energy? There wasn't much to do. We were flipping the in-flight magazine. I flipped from cover to cover in less than 1 minute. Couldn't read a single word. Pinky found the magazine rather boring as well. So, we decided to cam-whore a bit here and there. In the end, we fall asleep until the food arrived. The food... oh, the food... I hardly throw food away. I always licked my plates clean but this time round, I was very sorry. The food was so horrible I would rather fast for the whole month than swallow that chicken. My gosh... you know I'm a chicken lover and I'm a professional chicken cooker :D ... how did they manage to spoil the chicken? What kinda taste was that? And what's wrong with the rice? I ended up chewing on an empty bun and drinking some tea. Gosh... please... that was the most horrible food I've ever tasted.
We left Guangzhou on a bullet train back to Shenzhen. We were running short of time as we have had to rush off to catch our flight. You know, the train station in Seberang Prai, Penang was so small. It could hardly contain 50 people. 20 people and I was thinking how crowded the place was gonna be. So, I was shocked to see such a big intercity railway station. Pardon my shocked face, coz I was like that while looking at the place. I just came out of the jungle. Before we reached the waiting area, we had to use the escalator and it was quite a distant. An old lady two steps behind us feel down in a tortoise position, thus she was not able to get up on her own. The lady behind us wanted to pull her up but her husband stopped her from doing so. Instead of keeping quiet and letting it be, he shouted to the rest of the people who were about to step onto the escalator to back off or else they would be looking for trouble. How on earth will anyone be looking for trouble by just helping an old lady up? I was in front of the man so I couldn't do anything unless I push him all the way down. The lady security on duty was passing by and saw the incident, she ran up to help the old lady. After that only the rest of the crowd dared to step onto the escalator. What a cold and heartless society in a developed country. It reminded me about the incident in Foshan where the little was ran over by two trucks and left there to die on the road until an old lady came and helped out. Now, back to my bullet train ride experience. We got ourselves the first class coach so that we did not have to elbow our way to get a seat. We took our own sweet time because we have had our seat number printed safely on the ticket. The trip back to Shenzhen from Guangzhou was cut short by two hours. It was only half an hour compared to the intercity coach that rumbled through the mountaineous highway, honking away like nobody's business that bounced away for two and a half hour. The train picked up speed in matter of minutes. When Pinky first rode on the train, it went up to 297 km/h but because I was there *grinning like a Cheshire cat* the train sped at 304 km/h. Hey, I made a difference wherever I was. We were given drinks as well but so little time to rest. The spacious leg area was so comfortable. We could streched ourselves like two lazy cats. Pinky was dozing off in no time at all because we had to prepare for our three-hour flight later. I did snap the photos along the journey and the pictures turned out nice. They weren't blurry no doubt it was speeding at the speed of lightning... *exaggerating* The white train looked dirty. Told ya Guangzhou was misty and dusty. That was one great experience.