Grab your walking shoes and head to Beijing (part 2)

I’m back! Sorry that I haven’t been active lately, I had to sit for an exam (without getting any time off work) so I struggled to find time. But I’m glad to say that I passed and can forget all about it.

Here’s part 2 of my post on Beijing for tourists.

 

Beijing is a great city to absorb Chinese culture, although some of the attractions are targeted at tourists rather than locals’ actual practices (for example, the food street in Wangfujing). Here are some of my recommended experiences in Beijing.

Hutong, Nanluogu Xiang

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Hutongs are the traditional streets in Beijing, with narrow alleys and old buildings, some of which are still being used by residents. A typical old building is made of grey bricks, single storey and is centered around a courtyard. There are rickshaw tours available if you can’t be bothered to walk, but I highly recommend walking along Nanluogu Xiang. It is one of my favourite spots in Beijing, as it is fully pedestrianized (although you should still look out for bicycles and motorcycles), has lots of stalls and shops selling souvenirs, also cafes and restaurants. It looks beautiful with the lanterns hanging along it and lights in the evening. There are lots of hidden gems in the small streets around Nanluogu Xiang, including the Great Leap Brewery and the Black Sesame private kitchen. Continue reading

Grab your walking shoes and head to Beijing! (part 1)

Even though Beijing is not an ideal city to live in due to the high level of pollution, extremely cold winter and high density, it’s a perfect place for a sightseeing trip as it’s steep in history and culture. Unlike Shanghai, Beijing does not feel like a modern city. Instead, it feels very communist and the historical monuments and architecture are still very prominent. I recommend spending at least four full days in Beijing and definitely wear comfortable shoes because there’ll be lots of walking involved. In part 1 of my post on Beijing for tourists, I’ll focus on the historical sights that can’t be missed while in part 2, I’ll focus more on the cultural parts of Beijing.

The Great Wall

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Scenic views of the Great Wall

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The Nai Harn, Phuket

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View from The Nai Harn

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Phuket with hubby – it’s our only holiday this year without the little one. The last time we were there was nearly six years ago, when we had our minimoon after our wedding in Malaysia. We can’t seem to remember much of Phuket, but I’m sure that it hasn’t changed that much – beaches, great massages, seedy Bangla Road, etc.

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What a beautiful hotel

The highlight of this trip was our stay in The Nai Harn, a secluded resort by one of the nicest beaches in Phuket. The hotel is the successor to Phuket’s first five star hotel and was re-opened last year after months of renovation. It is probably one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve stayed in and immediately brings to mind the white and blue colours of Santorini. The best thing about the hotel is the view – pretty much everywhere would give you panoramic views of the sea. We stayed in the Grand Ocean View Room, which is very large and includes a big balcony overlooking the sea and across to the beach. Upon our arrival, they had provided us with a complimentary bottle of red wine and a bowl of fruits, which is a nice touch. Continue reading

Having a great time in China

In my first post on Beijing, I talked about how my initial encounter with Beijing was pretty shocking but I ended it by saying that it only got better from there. Even though the first week was challenging, I had a ball of a time for the rest of my stay there. There were lots of reasons for this, but I think a lot of it had to do with my mindset. Here are some of the key reasons I had a great time:

Just do it!

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Kung fu lessons (sorry for the poor quality, it’s a screenshot from a video)

I doubt any of my friends or family (and certainly not my hubby) would describe me as adventurous. But knowing that I was only in Beijing for three months, I wanted to make the most of it. So I tried my best and threw myself into it despite the language and cultural barriers. I signed up for kung fu lessons which was great fun. I got to know a local university student who became my language partner and also gave me an insight into a local student’s lifestyle and view of the world. I also got used to life in Beijing such that I had my favourite cafés and restaurants and a daily routine that I was comfortable with. I lowered my expectations and tolerated the smelly traditional squat toilets, barely noticed the pollution and became very fit from all the walking required in Beijing. Continue reading

A trip down memory lane

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Beach in Batu Ferringhi

Last Friday, we packed our bags and headed to the airport for a long weekend in Penang, an island in Malaysia. We met my parents and sister there, and spent three days hanging out with them. Penang is my dad’s hometown and most of my uncles and cousins still live in and around Penang. It is one of the popular tourist destinations in Malaysia and is especially popular with local tourists as it’s famous for having great food. Continue reading