PEr FYI

September 25, 2016

Temple of heaven, Beijing…A haven for the lazy art of people watching

Located south of the Forbidden City, the original Altar of Heaven and Earth was completed together with the Forbidden City, which was later renamed the Temple of Heaven in the reign of Emperor Jiajing. It was here that the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifice to heaven and prayed for bumper harvests. Tiantan Park as it is otherwise known, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike the Forbidden City with its majestic awe, if I had to name one thing I love about Temple of Heaven, it would be the unique Chinese park life. It is hard to think of better scenes to partake in people watching. Silver-haired citizens doing line dancing and tai chi or squaring off on chinese chess.There’s the impromptu performances of Chinese opera and jam sessions with traditional chinese instruments like the pipa and erhu. Then there’s my old childhood game “chapteh” ( Jianzi) played by senior folks. During this game, these silent generation players keep the shuttlecock (with a rubber sole/plastic disk) off the ground using their feet and other body parts, but not their hands. There was around 70 people patting their thighs 30 times, then their knees, shoulders, backs and heads to allow their Qi to flow freely. There were a few who were shouting, almost yodelling: “voice exercises”. Several people appear to be wrestling with trees, gripping trunks and pushing against them.

I love this lazy art of observing and admiring unique cultures and happenings of day-to-day park life in China. Next to no skills needed, other than some discreet positioning. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 31, 2016

South Beauty, Beijing…Honestly, not bad!

Aside from the Cantonese style of Chinese food which has long been dominant, Sichuan has become by far the most popular region for Chinese restaurants. South Beauty, as you might have guessed, specialises in Sichuan dishes.

Go for the signature crisp chicken which is beautifully crispy, tender and delicious, or, if you can stomach it, the signature braised streaky pork with chili sauce – beautifully presented in a striking eartherware pot. It’s good – soft, wobbly, erotic and very fatty. Leave your arteries at the door.

Nice decor, not too fancy, not too touristy and divey.  The service was quick and efficient.

This place does a fine job of the Sichuan Province’s dishes and at prices that won’t empty your wallet, too. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 20, 2013

Beijing QuanJuDe Wangfujing Restaurant, Beijing…..Peking roast duck restaurant gets a roasting. Duck off!

This is the first time I’ve dined at QuanJuDe, but there will not be a second!  Don’t get me wrong the duck was good, but honestly, I’ve had roast duck thats up to par, if not better.  Duck skin was crispy and greasy. For half a duck, I had very few pieces of skin.

We’ve all fallen for them; food places the guidebooks say you absolutely must try when visiting a certain city. So we join all the other tourists who’ve read the same guides and wait on long lines for what turns out to be overrated, mediocre, and often overpriced food. Apparently founded during the Qing Dynasty, QuanJuDe is a the longest-running Peking roast duck restaurant brand in China. I went to the outlet at Wangfujing and it is a big place, and yes they serve so many ducks it could resemble a food factory rather than a restaurant. This tourist trap charges more for the duck than any other Peking duck restaurant in Beijing, and then they charge you separately for each plate of sauce & onion, cucumber, basket of wraps for the duck, etc! This makes it the worst value of Peking ducks in Beijing

I strongly recommend you get your peking duck experience somewhere else since most places do as good or better of a job. The way I can sum this up is…keep walking…don’t look back…find another place. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 15, 2012

Silk street and pearl market, Beijing…bargaining is truly the most popular non-contact sport here

If you want any type of fake high fashion bags, clothes, “exotic” silks, custom made suits, Mao Zedong propaganda, new shoes, and absolutely no cash afterwards Silk Street and Pearl market is your heaven. Irrespective of whether you intend to buy anything, the market is still worth a trip simply to marvel at this vast temple to consumerism.

The first price mentioned to you will be outrageous, the second one incredibly high, and eventually they will just be expensive. Ignore the fake crying, the yelling, pulling your arm and the stories about the cats, dogs, children and old folks they need to feed. They are obviously just trying to get more money out of you and they will pull out all the stops to rape your wallets continuously. Don’t be fooled or frightened away no matter what their reaction. It’s all in the unwritten script, and being horribly insulted by your paltry offer is part of their role. She will grumble and complain and look like she’s mad, but that’s how she’s supposed to act.  She’s the pro; if anyone’s going to get a raw deal, it’ll be you if you don’t bargain stridently. Any price she ends up agreeing upon is fine with her, no matter how wounded she acts. 

So go in there with a game plan and be sure to stick with it, be as firm with them as they will be with you. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

 

October 9, 2010

Beijing Sideways…unique but not memorable

Filed under: Activities, China, Sight seeing, Tour, Travel — Tags: , , , — PEr @ 9:02 pm

An alternative to cookie-cutter tours, Beijing Sideways helps you discover the city from the seat of the vintage motorcycle sidecar, ignoring traffic jams and the pleasures of the wind in the hair (or in a helmet). Routes can be tailor-made and Frenchman founder Gael or his band of easy riders will pick you up wherever is most convenient.

I only wish Gael had more regards for the law (ie not going up the wrong way on one-way streets) and more respect for the locals  (especially those who lived in the hutongs). Gael also should be more aware that the rumblings of the bike drowns out whatever explanations or information he was trying to tell me as we shuttled down the streets. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

October 5, 2010

LAN Club, Beijing…thrives on design alone, one visit is enough for me

The LAN club is located in a huge space in the LG towers (next to the Silk market). LAN thrives on design only. Everything from the eccentric decor to  the artfully weird washrooms, from the outrageously decorated chairs, framed paintings on the ceiling to the Mao knick-knacks in the display cases…its all gloriously gaudy. For me, one visit is enough.

The service seemed confused, and communication among staff seemed to be poor. While I do not expect any form of royal treatment, I would expect hostesses at this type of establishment to be a little more warm and welcoming, and servers to offer some pleasantries.

Like I said…one visit is enough for me. You’ll only walk away with less cash and the nagging voice that is saying, “I told you so.” This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

Made in China, Beijing…if you want to go to one restaurant in Beijing, this is it!

No trip to Beijing would be complete without Peking Duck, which I ate with great abandon. After intense discussion with travel industry friends, a uniform opinion emerged: the best Peking duck in all of Beijing, and perhaps the whole world, is at the restaurant “Made in China” in the Grand Hyatt hotel. The Hyatt!?! How could it be that an American hotel chain could have the best traditional Peking duck?

The decor is very funky and modern. You walk past a cabinet of attractively displayed vegetable produce, past wood-fired ovens and through into an open kitchen area. Absolutely enthralling. The cuisine is topnotch. The presentation and flavours are impeccable. In addition to the Peking duck, the fried dumplings are also recommended.

I was so impressed that I went back on my last day and it was no fluke: I had the duck again and it was also perfect.  If you only go to one restaurant in Beijing, go to this one.  Go there early in your trip, as you may not want to go anywhere else. This is the true truth. I say it as it is…

October 3, 2010

Grand Hyatt Beijing…5 star hotel with 6 star service and an amazing pool

A great experience from start to finish. The staff are extremely friendlly, well-trained and helpful. Whatever you need, there is someone there to fill it for you….whether it be dining, business needs, or just directions.

The hotel is so well situated – Wangfujing Street (the capital’s most famous shopping street) and other top sites – are within walking distance. It houses my favorite Beijing restaurant “Made in China,” a buzzing open-kitchen concept where you can see your Peking Duck get cooked and prepared feet away.

I was also enchanted by this Hyatt’s Fitness Centre and Spa, which features an amazing pool. One MUST make time to visit the swimming pool at Grand Hyatt. Do not miss it….even if you have no plans to swim. It’s an immense indoor tropical pool rimmed by palm trees, caves, waterfalls, trees, two alcoves with hot tubs and a dazzling evening sky.  It is the type of pool that makes you want to laze by the pool all day long.  (see photo below). It’s called the Oasis….need i say more?

If I have something to grouse about, it’s that at 35 sq meters, the rooms are smaller than what I am used to at 5-star hotels. Having said that, I must admit, however, it was hard to leave this stunning Hyatt. This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

October 2, 2010

Da Dong, Beijing…the go-to choice for delicious Peking duck

Filed under: China, Food & Beverage, restaurant — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 9:00 pm

This restaurant is famous for roasting its ducks over a traditional wood fire. The ambience is decidedly modern, with an impressive open show kitchen, good for watching the duck being prepared.

These ducks are low-fat and crispy but not oily with a tasty, moist and juicy inside. The skin is popcorn-puffy and exceptionally super crispy and does not have so much fat. It was cooked in a such a way that there is no extra grease (they called it “Superlean” actually) but the skin of the duck is glistening like it is glazed with honey. Oh yes…I learned a new way of eating  Peking duck here. The top layer of skin should be dipped  in sugar. It tastes like candy when you do that – surprisingly abominably good.

Service staff really concentrate on a holistic duck experience, taking the time to show us several ways to consume the delicacy. The duck is carved tableside and each piece was perfectly sliced and layered.

I will always recommend Da Dong without any hesitation. The duck was absolutely fab. The only downside is that after our heavy meal, we waddled, duck-wise outside the restaurant to the road but try as we might, we just couldn’t hail a taxi for a good 25 minutes. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

September 30, 2010

Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing…all travellers must stand on this masterpiece before they die!

Filed under: China, Sight seeing, Tour, Travel — Tags: , , — PEr @ 2:23 pm

The Great Wall has long been on my want-to-visit list and it doesn’t disappoint. The Great Wall at Mutiayu is about a 2 hours drive out of central Beijing and it’s not very crowded. It’s sure not flat, and is quite steep in some sections, but is definitely worth seeing the wall in it’s pristine un-touched state. When it seems flat, it is still slanted to the side to let water run off! The stones and bricks are chipped and cracked and worn. Some wobble. The Mutianyu section, built by the rulers of the Ming Dynasty, is the highest and steepest part of the Great Wall. Some steps are 4 inches high, some are 9.

I enjoyed the watchtowers and the arid beauty, the wonderful view of the wall meandering along the mountains, and took time to think of the poor wretches who gave their lives building the wall. I gaze toward the horizon. My mind conjures up the dangers that Ming soldiers once faced. On one side of me is China. On the other side—the land of the barbarians (the Tatars, Mongols and Manchus). To think: at the height of its importance during the Ming dynasty, the Great Wall is believed to have extended some 4,000 miles, the distance from New York to Milan.

I took a cableway (more like a chair lift) up to the starting point. You can climb if you prefer. Also you can either climb down the hill when finished. I, however, opted for the tacky Toboggan slide (aka Non-irrigated farmland sled)

Overall, an amazing experience, one I will never forget! It is one of the most impressive sights anywhere on PLANET EARTH !!!!!!! All travellers must stand on this masterpiece before they die! This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

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