Monday, April 30, 2012

Beijing Trip day 4 - The "Boyfriend"

I was one happy tourist. Sitting at the front of the bus. Having the double seat all by myself. Even dozing off and playing games on my ipad by making stupid faces during the horrid traffic jams through Beijing. Fie and I made quite a reputation to being the first to hop off the bus and also the first to hop on. Hehe. We were called the "ideal tourists" by Ms Lili.

It was on this fourth day that I was questioned by the tourist guide on my status and other personal questions. I felt uncomfortable at first and so did she. She said  she was afraid I'd be offended by her questions. But being curious on how offensive her questions were, I encouraged her to ask.

What caught me off guard was that the questions were asked by the bus driver who unfortunately doesn't know  how to speak in English. The dialogue as I recall it began like below while waiting for the others to finish their zuhur prayers at a mosque. I finished early. We were sitting on the second row seats of the bus as our bags and luggage were stored on the first row. The driver was sitting on the steps waiting for Ms. Lili to ask me the questions. I was sitting near the window and only saw his eyes above the seats.

Ms Lili: The driver says he has a question to ask you. But I'm shy to ask. Scared you get angry.
Me: Eh.. No lah. You can ask me anything. (*I smiled)
Ms. Lili: He wonders why you cover your hair.
Me: (lauging) Well, it's simple actually. First to show that I'm a Muslim. Second... (pausing a long while), is keeping myself for the husband. Only him can see what's beneath. (*practically blushing by then, don't know why. Reflexes)

Ms Lili looked me over and smiled.

Ms Lili: OK. Hold on. Let me explain to the driver. (and she translated to the driver in the Chinese language)

A few minutes later. She was laughing  about something and looked back to me.

Ms Lili: I like your answer. It's very good.
Me: Thanks.
Ms Lili: He also wants to know, how come it's legal that Muslim men can have four wives?
Me: He can IF he is rich enough to take care all of his wives. Marrying four women is a luxury not all men can have. (Ms Lili nodded and explained to the driver.)
Ms Lili: Can Malaysian girls marry Chinese men? (Her question seemed fishy at the time)
Me: Sure. Fie has a Chinese boyfriend. 
Ms. Lili: Owh, and how about you? Can you consider marrying a Chinese man?
Me: I have no problem with that. Why?

Ms Lili began talking to the driver and then she looked at me.

Ms Lili: The driver is interested. Can you take him as a boyfriend?
Me: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... Isn't he married?
Ms Lili: So can?
Me: If he's a muslim.
Ms. Lili: Oh! 

She explained the situation to the driver. I looked at him when she did this and I said "Sorry" over the seats when our eyes met. By then the bus was filling up with the other tourists and the driver moved back to his driver's seat.

The "boyfriend" in blue
Ms. Lili stood up and began announcing to them all in a cheerful voice, "Hey all, the driver wants to be Jard's boyfriend!" 
Voices at the back began cheering and saying, "Yes, we'll support them"

And my face went red as a beet! From that moment on, Ms. Lili kept giving out remarks from the front saying that I should sit in front with the "boyfriend" or saying he can't see my face through the rear mirror because of the bags in front.

I managed to avoid crossing paths with the driver most of time until the very last day. The drive to the airport.

Ms Lili: How about you bringing your boyfriend to Malaysia?
Me: No money! Haha.
Ms Lili: Is it easy for him to find jobs in Malaysia?
Me: You gotta ask the CEO at the back for the job.
Ms Lili: So, don't want to marry him?
Me: He has to convert to Muslim first.

Ms Lili explained my answers to the driver before coming back to me laughing like mad.

Ms Lili: OK, he says if he converts to Muslim, will you let him have four wives?

I began laughing like a mule at this question and answered as politely as I can. My answer? Let me and the people on the bus know and you to find out. =p

The farewell at the airport was brief. The driver stayed on the bus while we whisked our bags away. Just before entering the departure hall, I looked back at him and waved. He gave me the biggest grin that I've ever seen and he waved cheerfully back.

Guess that's the last time I'll see him. Hehe. Wanting four wives konon! Hurmphhhhhhhh!

 OK, will continuing my Beijing travelog soon. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 3 - Dr Tea and Kungfu Panda Show

I guess I was lucky to not buy anything from the factories that Ms. Lily brought us to, with the exception of the Bian Stone bracelet (for health reasons) and silk pillow/blanket convertible (innovative!). Other then that, my money was pretty much in tact for our shopping session on the fourth day. =)

Tea Tasting Session at Dr. Tea outlet.

I'm not a tea person. I'm a MILO with ICE person which isn't exactly healthy. Dr. Tea is one of those shopping places that we get to taste some good tea and then are persuaded to buy em.

I loved the tea tasting session, not so the persuading "please buy" part. =)

Dr. Tea's outlet from the outside.
Not much activity from the outside. You'd never expect what's gonna greet you inside. Hehehe.

Clockwise from upper left : Building, entrance, Tea lady, and the tea tasting room.
VIP room uols!
We get to taste four types of tea in small tiny cups. The expensive Pu'er Tea, Flower Tea and two others which I can't remember. I read this blogger's experience with Dr. Tea and it was hilarious!

But I gotta praise the interior design. So clean and spacious!
Lovely! Just plain lovely!
And thus the tea tasting session began.

Clockwise from upper left : color changing tea set, demonstrating tea making,
tea leaves, and finally the tea!
Say to the least, after I came back to Malaysia from Beijing, I came to enjoy tea much more! Even-though it's not Chinese tea. LOL.

From left: Customers bargaining with the prices and tea sets for sale.
The prices range from RMB 300 per tea box and if buy more will get discounts. If you're not careful, you'll most probably be spending at least RM500 at this place just for dried leaves. LOL. We actually got chased down to the bus by the tea lady because she wanted us to buy more for her to have enough sales' points. (whaddaa!!!!!@%$^?????)


I'm SAVED! hahaha. 

Next on the schedule....

Kungfu Panda Theater.

We arrived late as the show started at 7:30 pm. And our seats were at the second floor of the theater, so pictures weren't many. Heee...=p

Clockwise from upper left : Outside the theater, closing act,
view from second floor seats, and one of the acts.
It wasn't really REAL pandas. Just people in panda costumes displaying some sort of martial arts. Cool... but I was a bit too tired to enjoy much of the show. 

Heck... I just came back from the Great Wall of China! Hehehe.

And thus ends my adventure on Day 3. Tomorrow is another adventure.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to vote for my blog!!! (Links on the right sidebar)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 3 - Donghuamen Food Night Market

We went to a tea tasting session and then to a Kungfu Panda Live show before heading here. I guess I'll blog about that later depends on my mood though. Hehe.

Donghuamen Night Market is known to open only at nights and closes around 10pm. It is located in the northern end of China's most famous shopping street - Wangfujin, in Beijing.

When Fie and I showed up here, men wearing red caps were calling us saying "Halal food! Halal food!" Since it wasn't nice to simply ignore them, I came by to say hello and took a picture of them. Unfortunately for them, I left my wallet in the bus. LOL.

The ONLY halal food at the night market. 
I walked down the street and observed the various foods and delicacies being sold there. And to my delight and shock.... I found these exotic food being sold.
Clockwise from upper left - Fried centipedes, silkworms, water beetles,
snakes, sheep penis (whaddahel?), and longhorns.
The stall owner kept hitting me with a stick because I was taking photos of the dishes with no intention of buying. HAHA.

The price? It ranges from RMB 15 to RMB 50 with the below as the most expensive food ever.
Oh-Em-Geeeeeeeee!!! Fried KING SPIDERS anyone?
I believe the picture below is the most popular dish around because only 8 left before close-up. LOL. Must be tasty. Lalala...

Full of protein, I reckon.
Thank god I already had my dinner because after feasting my eyes on these types of food would've caused lost of appetite. =)

Pic credit to Fie as testimony that I've been here!
I don't take much pictures of myself so most of my pictures were taken by Fie's camera. Since she's super busy, she managed to post only one blogpost on our Beijing trip. Do read her post. =)

Thankyou for reading and don't forget to vote for my blog in the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Award. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 3 - Great Wall of China

We're finally here!!! After waiting for months for this particular day... I finally set eyes on the one of the seven great wonders of the world.... I was ecstatic baby!

Even on the way there which took about 2 hours from Beijing, I was hyperventilating. OK.. that's a bit exaggerated. But the driver took notice how I was squirming in my seat, impatient to get out. LOL.

A cute bus driver for that.
I believe there are many entrances to the Great Wall. We just happened to enter through the JuYong Pass.
JuYong Pass of the Great Wall. Forgot to ask the price. =p
I read from the information bulletin, that Juyongguan (Juyong Pass) is a famous ancient pass of the Great Wall in north Beijing as depicted on the below map.

The Badaling Pass is just below Juyong Pass. (source for map)
That's only the UPPER half of the wall. The whole Great Wall of China could be illustrated below.

JuYong is depicted in the BLUE ARROW. (Source of map)
See how extensive the Great Wall of China!! I think I should come again just to explore the whole wall. Wouldn't that be great? Alas, we were given only 2 hours at JuYong Pass. I didn't even try to reach the second tower. Uwekkk.. uwekkk..

Jundu Mountain? Hehe.
It lies in the Jundu Mountains, the ending section of the Taihang Mountains.

At the base of JuYong pass.
There are lots of merchandise being sold here. My advise: DON'T BUY!!! It's damn expensive! Better buy at the open market back in Beijing. But the small stuffed panda magnet is found there. Kinda regret not buying it. LOL.

Love locks. People tend to leave their locks there as sign of everlasting love. 
I started my way upwards with Fie. And reached the first tower. Went up a flight of stairs... and walla!

Whadda?! Got another two three towers before reaching the top?! LOL
I honestly thought I've reached the highest tower. But the view from the back proved likewise. Hehehe. So being discouraged and knowing that time is running out, I stopped climbing and went back down.

The way down.
The stairs were uniquely narrow and steep. One person at a time.

Going down.
And on our way down, we expressed our excitement for being there by....

.... yes. Jumping!!! 
Thanks Fie for the picture below. =)

Am soooooo HAPPY to step foot at the Great Wall of China! Hoorayyyyyy!!!
Moving downwards, we chanced upon a stack of weaponry.

I think its for the Oriental Picture service where ppl get to wear costumes. RMB 50 per pic.
We went downwards and decided to pee-pee. =p

Nice restroom eh?
Guess it is always easier going down then going upwards, right? I felt the time spent there wasn't enough and plan to come again in the future. Who wants to follow me? 

When all the 12 people gathered near the exit, we then headed to Beijing to visit the famous Dong Hua Men Night Market. Hope you can stomach some fried scorpions on sticks for the next blogpost. Ihikzz..

Thankyou for reading! And don't forget to vote for my blog in the running for the "Tourism Travel Blog" award! (Link on the right sidebar)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 3 - The Jade Factory

On the THIRD day in Beijing, before heading to the Great Wall of China, the tour guide brought us to the Jade factory instead. I knew by then, that every item we bought from any factory she has brought us to, will reward her in commissions.

It's OK for me just as long the things sold are practical. In this case... I'm no fan of jades. So I didn't buy anything. But learning about them was great fun though!

The jade factory that we went to is shown below. I have no idea what it's name. Can anyone translate Chinese for me?

And in we go!
The visit started with showing types of raw stones or slabs of jades found in different parts of the world. Mostly from China. Jade can come in many colors but differ in quality. The high-quality jades are Jadeite which are very expensive while the lesser quality jades are called Nephrite (source). Don't go asking me how to differentiate them 'coz I have no idea. LOL.

Slabs of Jade to be carved!
Inside the factory, we watched a man carving into the hard jade. He was pretty serious in his job and practically ignored our camera flashes. Hehe. Then we entered a room where a guide told us the stages of making a Happiness Ball. One of the most famous jade designs in China.

From Left: Guy carving into a Jade, Woman explaining a Happiness Ball
Yes a happiness ball. Wonder if there's a sadness ball. LOL. They didn't ask us to buy anything, just released us to view the jades on display, free to buy or browse anything we like.

Me? Browse only maa! Hehe.

Clockwise from upper left: Laughing Buddha, men doing something, Buddha on dragon,
Chinese Cabbage, Happiness Ball, dragons
What you guys might not know is that each design of jade has a meaning to the Chinese community. Here are some explanations on desirable jade designs in China:
  • Happiness Ball - Also called "lucky ball", "family ball", or "generation ball". From 3 layers to 13 layers, one layer stands for one generation. Just like an extended family, it can bless people with happiness and reunion. There are 12 holes on a layer, symbolizing 12 months, may bless a family with happiness, harmony and good luck in a year. The dragon and phoenix stands for the emperor and queen respectively. 
  • Laughing Buddha - Also called "Maitreya", "happiness Buddha, " or "smelling Buddha". It is characterized by broad mind and big smile. It is said if you touch his belly, you can get good luck and successes, helps you overcome all your difficulties and frustrations easily. If you touch his ears, you can get happiness. if you touch his head, you'll become very intelligent and knowledgeable. There are five popular Buddhas in China, the laughing Buddha, goddess of mercy, god of longevity, god of wealth, and god of happiness.
  • Jade Chinese Cabbage - shares the same pronunciation with Bai Cai (wealth) in Chinese, can bless people with a lot of money. The placement of the cabbage in your homes are important. No matter where you put it, you should ALWAYS place the "root end" inside and the other side facing the door, so that it can bring the owner lots of money. According to traditional custom, Northerner of china like storing a lot of green cabbages for winter that symbolizes they can store a lot of money. When choosing a jade Chinese cabbage, find one with long root and large vegetable leaf.
It was fun learning the meanings of the jade designs. Now I know why the Chinese community back in Malaysia are keen with these symbols. =)

RMB 225 per piece? You gotta be kiddin' me!
But getting myself any sort of jade for my own personal collection needs much thought and a bigger wallet. Hehehe. Later I found a jade bracelet in the open market for only RMB 10, most probably fake or just cheap Nephrites. =)

Next stop is THE GREAT WALL of CHINA!! -- next entry.

Before ending, again I'd like to say thank you for voting and supporting my blog in the "Tourism Travel Blog" Category. Voting period is until 1st of May 2012. So still hoping to garner enough votes to stay on top. =)

OH ya, if you haven't voted yet, hope you don't mind voting for me here.. THANKS!

And thankyou for reading! ^^

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 2 - Summer Palace

Early this morning, we went to the Tiananmen SquareForbidden City, then to lunch + jamak prayers, later to a Silk Factory and finally the final stop for the day was visiting the Summer Palace situated just 15km from central of Beijing. We didn't go far from the entrance, just enough to catch some pictures and do some souvenir shopping.

We were already exhausted from walking many miles in the Forbidden City so the afternoon was spent at a leisurely pace.

The entrance with two guards taking watch.
It was an ENTER ONLY gate and the EXIT was at another gate. Didn't realize that until much later though. Haha. Even the tour guide didn't know.

We were surprised to be met with such view! A LAKE!! Didn't expect this!
The Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China's imperial rulers which means as a retreat from the main imperial palace or Forbidden City - a pleasure-ground in the countryside, yet near to the city. (source)

I certainly can imagine myself retreating here after long hours at work. Me, an imperial princess during my past lifetime? I was sometimes mistaken as Chinese back in Malaysia, maybe it's possible? Haha.. believe in karma, anyone?

A pavilion near the lake.
I have to forewarn you guys, you'd be pestered by pedestrians selling maps and souvenirs at this place. The prices are quite good compared to local shops near the lake.

More dragons!
Didn't catch much pictures as I was enjoying ice-cream while listening to some cute chinese guy playing a tune on his flute. The place gave the feeling of being in the imperial period. Flute songs filling the air, cherry trees, sound of water, and Chinese ancestral structures everywhere!

The only thing missing were people in Chinese imperial costumes. Hehe.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. But will repay it with pictures from the Great Wall of China!! Coming up next on Day 3! So stay tuned.

Oh and another thing, thank you again for your support on voting my blog in the "Tourism Travel Blog" Category. Voting period is until 1st of May 2012. Hope to garner enough votes to stay on top. =)

OH ya, if you haven't voted yet, hope you don't mind voting for me here.. THANKS!

And least but last, thankyou for reading! ^^

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 2 - China Silk Factory

The thing with joining a group tour planned by the agency is that I wouldn't know how to get to the places we go (since we were driven there and I'll be asleep most of the time. LOL) and also won't be able to know the place's name.

Now that's a bummer.

What if I wanted to go there again, right? Especially places that aren't listed in the Travel Adviser website. Oh well, let the picture below become a reference in the future lest I come visit again. Hehe.

The Silk Factory in Beijing!
It looked like an igloo to me. Hehe. Once inside, we were given explanation by a guide there. Didn't take his picture though because I was preoccupied with the silk worm's life cycle on their wall.

So they use silk worms to produce China Silk eh?
New knowledge for me. I never knew that silk were from worms! Haha. So ignorant of me right?

They kept this worm in a jar. It was sooooooo longggggggg!!!
Thank god I wasn't the squeamish type. Better to gawk then squeal. Erk! More pictures below.

China Silk in the making.
Clockwise from left : Jars of actual silkworms in every cycle of their lives, stack of cocoons, dead silkworms from inside the cocoons, and last, the big sewing machine to produce cloth.

The cocoons of the silk worms are made from silk. So before they become moths, that will be the best time to get their cocoons for their silk. The silk is then used as thin threads to make any cloth possible. I noticed that China Silk is sold in abundance in Carrefour Wangsa Maju. Wonder if it's the same kind?

The guide showing the latest silk products.
The promoters were keen on selling their bedroom silk products after explaining the origins of silk. I didn't fancy their prices though as I was on a tight budget.

Divide the prices by half and you get it in Ringgit Malaysia.
Unfortunately I didn't survive their smart marketing skills. I left the building with a China Silk product that costed RM75 per piece. A pillow!!! HAHAHAHA... most expensive pillow thus so far in my lifetime. Woes is me! *will be sleeping with it from this night onwards! Next stop would be the Summer Palace! That will be on my next entry. ^^

Hey guys, thank you so much for your support on voting my blog in the "Tourism Travel Blog" Category. Love you readers much! muahh! muahh!

OH ya, if you haven't voted yet, hope you don't mind voting for me here.. THANKS!

And least but last, thankyou for reading! ^^

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beijing Trip Day 2 - Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was so named this because, for more than five hundred years, nobody was allowed to enter except for the rulers of China and their servants. Whoever else entered faced the DEATH penalty. It was the home to two dynasties of Emperors, the Ming and the Qing dynasties, within the reign of twenty-four emperors who lived in this imperial palace! The city was built during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and is located directly in the center of Beijing and it's vast area is hard to miss. (source) Now, the palace is open to the public with the entrance fee of RMB40 to 60. =)

The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation as pictured below. While the northern section, or the Inner Court is where the royal family lived.

The outer court and the Hall of Supreme Harmony at the background.
When entering into the outer court from the Meridien Gate (the pic shown in the previous entry where we bought our tickets), a large court yard consists of three important buildings will be in view. One is the one above,
  • the Hall of Supreme Harmany (Taihe Dian ) - where grand ceremonies were held  like the Emperor's enthronement, birthday and wedding day, the dispatch of generals to battles, the Winter Solstice and the Spring Festival.
  • another is the Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghe Dian) - the place for the emperor to do preparations for ceremonies, and the last is 
  • the Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohe Dian) - where banquets were held on New Year's Eve and also place to take Final Imperial Examination (source)
I noticed the all of the buildings had these architecture designs.
The mini statues represents the building's status.
The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5. The more the statuettes, the higher the status. (source)

An American movie was made here. The Last Emperor if I'm not mistaken.
To the south east and south west of the outer courts are courts for the military and literary purposes such as receiving ministers and printing. The arrangement of the halls can be seen below.

We passed through A until H. Stopped by Empress's quarters first. (source)
At the front of the Hall of Heavenly Peace (methink, hehe) is a big bronze dragon.

OMG... look at it's muscles!!! Aummm!!!
On the way to the Imperial Garden, we stopped by the west side of  Hall of Heavenly Peace, into the Palace of Gathering Excellence  (not depicted on map).

Entering Palace of Gathering Excellence, residence of the Empress and Imperial Concubines.
Here resides Chi Xiu Gong or known as only Cixi (慈禧) in 1852 when she was created honorable person Lan. She gave birth to the emperor Tongzhi here in 1856 when she was promoted to concubine Yi. Her pic is shown below at age 70, methink.

Chi Xiu Gong, the Empress.
More pictures below.
Various pics from within the Forbidden City.
Clockwise from upper-left: Huge Stone Carving behind the Hall of Preserving Harmony, The Study of the Cultivation of Nature - Yang Xing Zhai, last two pictures are the surrounding rockeries of Yang Xing Zhai.

The picture chosen for my header. =)
This picture was taken in the Imperial garden. A pavilion amidst old trees, rockeries and cherry trees. Just breathtakingly beautiful and serene. =)

So that ends my visit to Forbidden City. Next stop is the Silk Factory!

OH ya, don't forget to vote for me for the "Tourism Travel Blog" Award here..

Thankyou for reading!

(Most of the info were referred from here -- source).