Thursday, 27 February 2014

BEIJING AND PEKING DUCK part 1

We arrived in Beijing on the 30th December Andy's birthday..

                                        HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY X
                                          The Peking Duck restaurant, Beijing  

Arriving around 2pm,  we said goodbye to the transmongolian express and with much excitement we jumped into the busy Chinese life. 
The clean and efficient metro was our first introduction to moving swiftly around the city. Fuchengmen our base for the next 8 days was fortunately only one line and seven stops away, We squeezed onto the train (it was rush hour or at least it felt like rush hour ) with all our baggage and became an instant celebrity as the locals smiled and took photos of the kids.  I think Alisha and Seb's wolf  and cheetah fur hats drew much of the attention also surprisingly many locals seemed smitten more with Seb than Alisha. I think they found him very cute, he was mistaken for a girl far to often for his liking. They were really friendly though.   

So a short walk along a busy street lined with yummy smelling foods shops, ( we would in time be nibbling) brought us to our Hutong ( small old alleys ) district and our hotel ...The Beijing Deluxe Hutong  Hotel.


HUTONG LIFE
 
 Our Hotel
 Making dumplings for Chinese new year celebrations at our hotel 




Dumplings with meat 


That night dinner had to be "Peking duck in the best Peking duck restaurant" just over the road from our Hutong.  And it was indeed wonderful. 

31st  December
we had an email from our agents saying we needed our Vietnamese visas to obtain our tickets out of China, so we took trip to the embassy by taxi. We waved one down on the road which took some time as it was so busy. We visited a local park  the Ri Tan national and historical park, for the next two hour and as the kids played, Chinese parks are full of local culture.  The park had a wonderful old pagoda in the middle and massive pond which was half frozen, some people were walking on it.  We saw the elderly exercising and doing Tai chi. And others playing cards.
After that we visited silk street markets and found our all important great wall hat pins we are all collecting. I  had to do some hard bargaining they wanted £20, yep they defiantly rise the price for foreigners!  I got them for £3.50 each in the end. Alisha and Seb got their first pocket knife which included a fork and spoon.Which was very helpful for seb as he had trouble handling chopsticks.  
We ate some expensive pizza in the ground floor a whole ten 10 pounds each, and caught the metro back to Fuchengmen. 

1st January Happy New Year
At the bottom of Tian an men square we queued up to go through the security gates
 ( this would be tedious in the summer) and then wondered around the famous square which has some souvenir sellers and mostly locals wondering around.


 You have a real mix of  Chinese tradition and and communist rule. At the opposite end of the square Chairman Mao mousoleum  stands grandly. 
Chairman Mao mousoleum

                                    Entrance to the gardens on either side of the Forbidden City 
From there you wonder through the Bei tan Parks that lead to the awesome Forbidden  City. 







We spent the rest of the day here and could easily have come back for more. I could not resist buying Alisha a Chinese dress and Seb a mandarin red suit with a dragon on it :-) they looked fab. They spent the rest of the day running around all dressed up twirling long gymnastic ribbons bought in Tian an men square. That gave the Chinese a lot of photo opportunities :-)  The photos say it better than my words just how good the forbidden city is :-), there a feeling of past glorious power in the gracefulness and majesty of the building, a sublime moment.





I loved the little figures that adorned all the corners of roofs, there was between 8 and 10 on each. These are little good luck water demons to prevent the buildings from burning down. Which as they are all made from wood, happened a lot. They also had massive metal vats there which would have held water for 
such an occasion. We saw the emperors many throne rooms, inner staterooms and private quarters and so so much more ......bliss.




The Forbidden City x








                                                           


















The end of the day..................................




Having fun in China 








Visiting the street of lanterns  we ate some traditional food... noddles, chicken and pancake rolls. 
We are managing to order food quite well with the help of some hand signing and the fact that some menus have photos in them. When you look around at the locals and see what they are feasting on, you realise the Chinese eat very well indeed and that without a interpreter we are limited in our ordering. Still its all yummy. 
 Beijing Part 2 to follow x

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