Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beijing Nov 09:Miscellaneous

How I wish this happened just today!
-Our welcoming dinner, hosted by Dominick.
This is a nice courtyard restaurant called 花家怡园 in 簋街.
The original name of this street was 鬼街( Ghost street ), as any time of the night, you will find someone eating here.
However, this sounds crude. A more appropriate word 簋, which sounds exactly like 鬼, was used in stead.
Every restaurant along the street is well decorated with Chinese lanterns.
Oriental atmosphere is very strong.

Served the Best Peking Duck, as voted by the Tan family :)
Well, very good, but portion was a little too small lah ;)
Ok Ok, that's because we ordered so many other dishes.

One interesting activity, especially for HK, is shopping, as China made goods today is of reasonable quality.
This place is called Guan Pi, a whole sale market, 官员批发市场
The exciting part was watching how Dominick used his charm to sweet talk all the 美女to agree selling us at very cheap price:)
2 years in Beijing had made him street smart, and ???hehe.
This is an instant changing room in the stall ;)

Interesting walk in this very old, well preserved lane, called 南锣鼓巷.

A peep into a courtyard house, cozy.

Interesting to see they have a letter box for newspaper and mails,
and a separate white box for milk
A visit to the old residence of 宋庆龄, the wife of Dr, Sun Yat-Sen.
It has a nice garden.
Had tea in this place called, 9 meng xiao zhi
九门小吃 (北京小吃)
Experienced local Peking food, and also halal
Chinese Muslim food.
Sorry to say that they did not dance to our taste buds.
Lamb innerts were supposed to be a local Muslim delicacy, but not for HK, me and Julie.
Dominick consumed almost the whole bowl ;)
Read from the Internet that 香山看红叶 is such a beautiful sight.
This is the main entrance to take a ski lift up 香山
We were so excited!
Riding this ski lift was equally thrilling.
However, we were 2 weeks too early, despite this excursion being arranged till the last part of our Beijing visit.
Leaves were just beginning to change their colours.
Most trees were still green ;(
This was the only autumn leave experience we brought back ;p
The second most popular Beijing tourist spot is now the 'Bird Nest'
So we went......
As we walk nearer, we could only see these huge steel bars.
Our impression: huge, strong, solid but nothing much to offer.
It's just another modern engineering display.
Perhaps 2 thousand years later, people look back, and say, " Interesting over - designed project.
where the hell did they get all these steel those days?"
The cube, where Olympic swimming competitions were held
The world famous Peking duck.
Any visit to Beijing will never be complete without eating here:)
We went at 12:00+, and the formal restaurant only had vacant tables available at 4:00pm!
So we opted for the 'only duck' section.
Well, it's OK, after all, we came here only for Peking duck.
We ordered half a duck per person, yummy!
Still the same old good taste as we had 5 years ago.
Sorry I remembered to take this photo after consuming half a plate of duck ;p
This famous little eating street in Beijing was different from what I saw 5 years ago, more organised.
and the scorpions were all alive and moaning in pain!
Still did not gather enough courage to eat them.
Yet, this place was still packed with tourists
Dinner at this Hubei restaurant was an interesting experience.
江湖一家 (湖南湖北菜 )
especially this chili fish head with mee made from tofu.
Surprised to learn that near to Beijing, there is this limestone cave
This cave is huge, and 7 levels deep underground.
So far we could only go down till level 4.
However, as we had a number of similar cave experience, it was not so fascinating for us.
I think the colour lightings made the cave looks artificial....
A visit to this flea market in 潘家园古玩.
There were so many antics being sold there, real?
Ended up buying the set of 4 chinese paintings on the 4 prettiest ladies in history. 中國四大美女。
Huge place.
Walk till my left leg almost broke!
Had to sit down for some exotic and expensive coffee.
This is one photo keep sending my saliva dripping.
3 layered pork well marinated and prepared to the right softness. Yum yum!
This was taken in a Shanghai Restaurant, 圆苑 (上海菜)
The most impressive was their male toilet.
It has 4 LCD panels displaying various channels: CNN, Bloomberg, sports and news.
Couldn't help taking this memory back to share with all.
This is one place near Beijing which I could never expect-龍慶峽.

龙庆峡 - 既有南方的妩媚秀丽,又有北方的雄浑壮观,被人们称誉为“塞外小漓江”、“中国小三峡”
A long escalator moving in the dragon's body brought us up to the dam above, and we boarded a boat for the river cruise.
Scenery was so cool.......
Looking up, a lone gazebo sat on the mountain cliff.........
We then took a cable car up to the top of the mountain, and in this little bell tower, we hit 10 times, citing some verses, bringing peace and prosperity to the whole family, friends, and the whole world ;)
We did some hiking......
This place is supposed to be so high that we could admire clouds below, and listen to rain drops passing by......
A further climb towards the peak brought us to this highest plateau of the mountain.
The gazebo could be seen higher up.
When I shot this picture, HK whispered," Sau Kuan, how I wish you are here :~("
On our way down, we need to pass through this narrow gap, which allowed only 1 person to go through at any one time.
This is how it looked like inside.
We came down at about 12:30pm, and entered this nice big restaurant, rejecting many restaurant promoters who volunteered to chauffer us to their restaurant lower down.
We discovered that we were the only customs in both the first and second floor!
Grill fish was good, but the egg plant was so salty that we requested for 1 bowl of hot water each, soak the egg plant for a while before they became edible, or rather tasted good!
See how thick the water became.
Price was cheap, but service was bad!
Later, we found out that this was another government operated restaurant.
No wonder.......!
Every good thing must come to an end.
This was the last dinner we had in Beijing, an excellent Korean BBQ, in this popular restaurant, 火炉火, selected by Zane.
Shaun and Zane has grown up, yet still remain so handsome :)
Dom's mum is an excellent cook.
We really enjoyed her cooking.....
It was a pity MeiLing could not join us, as she had to go for another compamy outing.
By the way, we missed all those home massage by Dominick's angels a lot.
As I cannot send my love to them, let me redirect our love to Lily .......the new addition to the Tan family :)
Thank you, Dom & Karen.
See you in Penang soon.....

Beijing Nov09 part4: Tianjin

Tianjin ( 80KM south ) is linked to Beijing by a High Speed Train which cruised at a maximum speed of 333 KM/hr during our ride.
Time taken was about 25 minutes, departing every 15-20 minutes.
However, we were shocked to find the station packed with travellers, despite being on a Thursday morning.

We arrived at 8:15am, planning to board the 8:45am train, but all seats were sold out, even first class.
The earliest available seat then was 9:55am ;(

Upon arrival, Ms YangLing Li was there, welcoming us with a 5-Series BMW :) Dominick immediately volunteered to be the chauffeur, and impressed us with his Beijing driving skill.

We first took a cruise on the Haihe, 海河, and passed through many well designed bridges. This is probably the maximum number of bridges I passed through within such a short distance.

This bridge won a prize for the best bride design.

Over this steel bridge, we could see the Millennium clock.

I was so happy to catch this photo of a "Hundred Happiness", or " 百福", which is essentially my name :)

Then we visited the ever popular 文化街, and bought 3 Chinese paintings from this shop. Again Dominick used his bargaining technique to twist the arms of our shop owner :)

Lunch was an experience! Now we understand why Dominick, the gourmet, insisted that we must eat Sea food in Tianjin. This Sea food restaurant is huge, with ton's of fresh and swimming seafood. The cooking was good, and flower crabs were especially delicious!

However, we passed ordering those ' Sea Intestines' 海腸子. They are fat earth worm like swimming creatures.

Took a little drive to witness the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, which took 4 years to construct. This was a venue for Olympic 2008 football matches.

Caught this UFO shaped stadium which housed the 43rd International Table Tennis Championship in 1995.

We then took a time machine, 馬車, back to the olden days where the rich and famous stayed.

The tourist guide explaining as we rode by the 5 famous historic lanes.

An evening tea was planned in this little Italian town, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Very nice boutique hotels and Italian style restaurants flourish this well kept small lane.
If you stare long enough, you will see 'Chiang Kai Shek' sitting right at the Center of this photo.
He waits for tips from tourists who wants to take a photo shot with him;)

This was where we sat down to have our afternoon tea, 意式風情街.

Many wedding couples came to take photos here. We saw 3 pairs within a short while.

This is Ling, MeiLing's staff in Tianjin, with her RMB30000 camera.
I admire her posture while shooting a bride nearby.

A short detour to a food street to try something like our 'putu piring', but coated with jam, instead of brown sugar & coconut.

Also we waited for this 'Hum Chin Phen' to be ready. They are called 耳朵眼 in China ;) Filling inside is also red bean paste.

Meanwhile, we wanted this drink, only to find out that the worker had clocked out.

Oh, this is a government operated 囯營 restaurant, no wonder ;(

On the dot, the workers stopped working!

Finally, the 'Hum Chin Phen' arrived, and you can see how simple was the restaurant.

As we were in Tianjin, we must take the world famous dumpling, 狗不理包子. This is our 3rd trial, still not impressed, except by its price.

However, by all fairness, the 包子 were very nicely wrapped.....

After dinner, we adjourned to Tianjing Train station, which is just beside the Haihe explanade.

The extent of the lighting here were far beyond our expectation. Tianjin has really changed so much, since we last visited 5 years ago.

Here we saw the well lit Millennium Clock!

Time had come for us to bid farewell to Tianjin.

Bye ......and Julie looked sad while posting in front of the High Speed Train.

Good night....