28th October 2011, Friday
By Friday, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. The amount of walking here alone is enough for a year’s quota of walking for me! We woke up late again to avoid the morning crowd. There were still many people – no matter what time we wake up to take the subway but at least, we needn’t be to claw our way into the train at least.
Shredded potato with minced pork
We chanced upon a restaurant serving dishes from Chengdu it seems. The serving portion was so huge that a plate of rice could actually feed 3 people! We made a mistake again by ordering a plate of dish each and ended wasting them. Ah, we should have known better. At least order one dish to gauge how big the plate is before ordering other things!
Temple of Heaven
We took the subway and stopped at Tiantandongmen (exit East Gate) to visit the Temple of Heaven. The moment we got out from the exit, a nice lady vendor automatically told us to turn to the back and walk straight to find the ticketing counter. This is indeed the first time we were glad that at least we were not greeted by touts to take us into the places of interest and we very much welcomed this help! Entrance were at 15 yuan and 20 yuan. I think we got the 20 yuan one. Please remember to hold onto your tickets because the ticket is also good for other segments in the huge compound!
Walking towards the Echo temple
As soon as we reached the place, we were greeted by sunny colors of yellow of the gingko trees. We walked into the place and were welcomed by camaraderie of people. Here, you have many old folks gathering to do the things they love – singing, dancing, playing mahjong, poker, chess, playing a form of ping pong and even knitting!
Then we came across this garden where most people congregate. At first, we were not sure which hobby they are subscribed to so we went over to see out of curiosity. So, do you know what they are doing here?
Can you guess?
What are they selling?
They are actually parents looking for a spouse for their single child! Haha! We had a ball of time – since the 5 of us are still single, so we read their sons’ particulars and decide which one is more suited to ourselves! It was hilarious. Since the group consists of mostly elderly people, we stuck out like a sore thumb. They knew we were foreigners so they left us alone. But there’s a lady there who looked at my camera disapprovingly and told me I couldn’t take any photos. I ignored her and took some anyway. Haha. After that, we quickly walked away to avoid further confrontations.
Waited over 5 minutes for this shot – waiting for people to leave! The Echo Temple
We simply love Temple of Heaven. The weather was rather agreeable with us today as well. We wish we had come to this place earlier on the trip! There were a few sections in this Temple of Heaven, so be early to check out the Echo Temple, as well as the Temple of the Sun. It was indeed a beautiful place.
After we got out from Temple of Heaven, we asked around how to get to 798 – the Art District. Actually, I didn’t even know that this 798 is so far away from town area. It was in Chaoyang District where the bus from Tianjin stopped. However, the tourist information centre near the exit was nice enough to check it up for us, on the buses to get to 798.
We got onto the bus from Temple of Heaven to 798 (Bus stop – Dashanzhi). It took almost 1.5 hours! By the time we reached 798 Art District, it was almost 4 pm. So I told Ms Pok to postpone our Peking Opera to tomorrow.
Freedom is indeed not free
798 Art District is a collaboration between the Chinese and the East Germans. You can read about them here. I simply love the industrial feel this place exudes!
We walked a little here because the girls are not interested in artsy stuffs. Again, we didn’t have lunch for the day so, we were sort of famished. It was almost 5 pm when we decided to leave 798. Again, during rush hour. We took the bus to the nearest subway station to Qianmen.
Since we didn’t have the “real and authentic” peking duck, we decided to go to Qianmen to look for Bianyifang, where they claimed they served the best peking duck in Beijing. There’s another place called Quan Jude too, which is even more expensive it seems.
We tried in vain to look for the restaurant, even the tourist booth don’t know the way! So, we just rely on guts instinct and walked blindly to look for the place – as we know, it’s somewhere near there! Ms Pok lamented why were we having endless bad luck trying to eat Peking duck. But then, “room delivery duck” we don’t want (referring to gigolo. LOL!). Finally, after walking aimlessly for 20 minutes, Lady Luck finally smiled at us and we managed to locate the place.
We quickly plunked our asses on the chair and ordered away. Since we learn from the previous dinner – at Dong Lai Shun, we quickly looked at the last page of the menu to see if they have any set dinner! The waitresses here are far more courteous and they were really attentive! We were pleasantly surprised with the very good service that we spent over 850 yuan for dinner! One duck is about 198 yuan, we took away 3 ducks back to Malaysia – and other than eating the skin and flesh, we opted for the bones to be used to be made into soup and also stirred fried with salt and bell pepper. They were good!
Walking Street in Qianmen
After our dinner, we went to walk around Qianmen. There’s also a shopping place here and the girls bought many souvenirs for friends and family. We should have come here earlier as the place is closed by 9 pm. A fire alarm went off for almost 1 minute as we were browsing items here that put us in a state of panic temporarily. We were relief when we learned that the alarm was actually to notify the vendors that it’s closing time!