China Must Have’s
1) Pleco Cell Phone App : This is one of the best Chinese-English dictionaries on the market. It comes with a ton of of features including voice recognition so you can get people to speak into it when you don’t understand what they’re saying. It saves your searches so you don’t have to keep looking up the same words over and over again.
2) You need to download or turn on a Virtual Private Network to access Gmail, Facebook and etc
Accommodation: 1) Kerry Hotel 2) Beijing Traditional View Hotel 3) Peking Youth Hostel (highly recommended)
I have always dreamed about going to China, the people, landscapes and archaeological finds here have always fascinated me. I was privileged enough to go to Beijing on a work trip. I worked for 7 days at a Conference and finally had 4 days of well-deserved vacation time. For the work conference I stayed at the Kerry hotel downtown which was very upscale and ate there too, it was a super fancy hotel with an okay restaurant. At this hotel I realized how much I missed laid back backpacking, staying in hostels, meeting random strangers who weren’t busy running to workshops and/or meetings. The next day after the conference had ended, I visited the Jinshanling Great Wall of China with an organized tour. We paid approx $150 CAD and it was definitely worth it. I thought the wall would be a flat surface you just walk on but it’s actually an intense hike with uneven walkways, countless stairs and tunnels you must pass through.
It was a full day trip so we returned in the evening and I ended up taking the taxi to the Beijing Traditional View Hotel that I pre-booked for the rest of my days in Beijing. It turned out to be an over-priced low quality hotel I would not recommend. The only pro to the place was that the location was very central, it was close to the train station and Hutong markets. There are also 3 halal restaurants in the area; Malaysian, traditional Chinese and an Indian restaurant. I have shared pictures from one of the restaurants below. I have eaten at the Malaysian place once and the Chinese restaurant twice because the food was really good. I have shared a map of the general area below and the location of the halal restaurant.
To get around in Beijing and get to the tourist attractions the next day I used the well-organized, cheap and efficient train system and I felt very safe. My itinerary included visiting The Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square and Qianmen Street. The Forbidden City is a magical place on its own but to make the whole experience unforgettable I randomly decided to walk across the street to Jingshan park with a lookout point for a breathtaking view of Beijing. I really enjoyed the location I was staying at so I ended up booking Peking youth hostel (female dorm) for my return to Beijing, which was a 3 minute walk from the horrible hotel I stayed in earlier and a bit cheaper.
I hope you enjoyed my first blog!