Beguiling Beijing. Captivating China

Ever since Beijing has been announced as the host of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games up to the time when this biggest sporting event happened, my eyes has been looking to this East destination. For a couple of years in between and at the end of Olympic Games period, Beijing and China is fast becoming a new superstar destination. This was further intense by the monthly and yearly covers of various travel magazines that promotes this once “sleeping Dragon” into now a “rising Phoenix”. China has been making waves in the last seven years. Aside from Olympics, its experiencing continuous economic growth that economists predicts that China will be the next economic superpower in the next years to come. No wonder that everyone turns to East this time, as China is becoming the center of the world.

Ni Hao!
And I don’t want to be left behind. I want to experience this captivating country. I’ve been planning to visit Beijing for two years already. The plan trip has been through a lot of things before it finally happened. I experience trip cancellation (3 times to be exact!), vacation leave embargoes, ticket forfeiture and even drag to airline’s employee labor dispute. That’s why I likened this trip to an epic journey of TV teleserye that in the end had a happy ending.  And as they say – everything happens in perfect time. This trip coincided a week after my birthday and becomes my ultimately birthday treat!

China is one of the hottest destination today that any traveler should not hardly miss. It widely opens it doors to welcome the world to discover its delightful charms. Beijing is a historical city with so much beguiling places to discover. While China is captivating as as its thousands of years world influence, contribution and rich imperial history that has captivated us in the history books.

Love, Beijing...
Beijing at night.
China officially known as the People's Republic of China is a vast country in Eastern Asia with the world's largest population of over 1.3 billion. The East Asian state covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million square miles) in total area and is the world's second-largest country by land area. China's landscape is vast and diverse, with forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts occupying the arid north and northwest near Mongolia and Central Asia, and subtropical forests being prevalent in the wetter south near Southeast Asia. The terrain of western China is rugged and elevated, with the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separating China from South and Central Asia. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy. As of 2012, it is the world's second-largest economy, after the United States, by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. On per capita terms, China ranked 90th by nominal GDP and 91st by GDP (PPP) in 2011, according to the IMF. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China)

Beijing is the capital of the most populous country in the world - China, and also its second largest city after Shanghai. It was also the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. Beijing is the political, educational and cultural centre of the country and as such it is rich in historical sites and important government and cultural institutions. Beijing literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China's long history. Beijing's history dates back several thousand years but it first became notable in Chinese history after it was made the capital of the State of Yan under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the major kingdoms of the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago. After the fall of Yan, during the later Han and Tang dynasties, the Beijing-area was a major prefecture of northern China. The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found in the city limits Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing has concentric "ring roads", which are actually rectangular, that go around the metropolis. Beijing has a total of 14 districts and 2 counties. It became the host of the XXIX Summer Olympic Games in August 2008. (Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Beijing)

My first Winter Sunset in China...
Expect the following travel trip stories that I will share on my Beijing trip in the following months:


Beijing – A Beguiling City. Experiencing the city first-hand is one of the most exciting part of my journey. Getting used to the winter weather is a major adjustment from someone who came from a tropical country as well as to the new environment of a city. Beijing is one of the most modern and biggest city I have been but still remains tourist-friendly with all the interesting sights just within the city. From huge skyscrapers, jam-packed subway to the historical palaces and temples, I will share here the must-see and experience when you come to Beijing.

Winter Sonata in China. It’s my first time to experience winter in China! It wasn’t just a wonderful experience but also an enriching one – learning the places to see when its winter in China. No chilly wind, cold weather and even a frostbite will stop me from exploring this beautiful country.

Winter Sonata in China...
Roaming through Beijing. Majority of Chinese in Beijing is mostly “no English” in conversation so communication is really a barrier but with the help of English translated maps and stations of the subways, buses and friendly taxis, roaming in Beijing to discover why it is so beguiling is now never a problem for a do-it-yourself trip. I will share here how easy it is to roam in Beijing using their different modes of public transportation.  

One Spring Day in Beijing. March is still Winter in Beijing but the month is also the transition month to Spring season. Here, I discover the different places ideal to see in the city during to upcoming Spring season.

Forbidden City: Forbidden No more. Discover what is life inside the imperial palace and courts of ancient China of the old dynasties by visiting the palace museum that has been the seat of the imperial China for thousands of years and home of many emperor rulers of the country before it came to its present government. Discover history facts and stories behind the walls that have been part of Chinese history withing the walls of the marvelous palace. This is a trip down to history books of ancient China face to face.

Night sightseeing of Tiananmen Square.
 Let the gates of China be open at Forbidden Palace.
A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China. A trip to China is not complete without seeing, climbing and hiking one of the 7 wonders of the world – The Great Wall of China! This is a must-see and must-experience when one is visiting China! A real opportunity of a lifetime! I visited the less crowded, less touristy section of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section which is perfect for souvenir photos. This is also a trip to history books face to face as the wall has been part of the Chinese and world history. But I never thought that hiking the Great Wall is not that easy as I see. It needs a “Dragon Hike” to explore it literally!

Beijing’s Architectural Wonders. The city of Beijing is not just all about the historical sights to wander but also about modern and spectacular architectural wonders that has been part of its modernity as a city. The Egg, Water Cube and the famed Bird’s Nest became the popular names of these city structures because of its spectacular architecture where it is likened. Visiting and getting a close encounter of these structures made me truly marvel to these works of architecture in Beijing.

A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China.
Bird's Nest or the National Stadium - one of Beijing's architectural wonders.
Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine. In every trip, food trip will always be part of the travel especially trying the local cuisine which is a good way to discover the place you are visiting. In Beijing, eating a roasted Peking Duck will complete your China experience. It is an authentic Chinese cuisine as this cuisine has been perfected and practiced since the imperial time of China. True to other testimonies, it’s quite oily but taste so delicious!

Wangfujing’s Lively Street Life. The shopping, commercial and night market district of Beijing, Wangfujing is so lively and vibrant especially at night. You can stroll down the malls left and right for branded goods and clothes or dine with various restaurants along the commercial street-side. If that is not your preference, you can stroll down the secret alleys for souvenir bargains and when you’re hungry already you can try eating in their roasting stalls from seafood to scorpions! From high-end world-class shopping to exotic street foods, Wangfujing never runs out of choices to stroll by nighttime. It is one of Beijing’s best places to appreciate by night.

Our dinner of authentic Chinese cuisine on our last night in Beijing.
The Imperial Gardens of Beijing. One of the best places to visit in Beijing is visiting its imperial gardens which are perfect for afternoon strolls while having a cool vibe of Winter season. These imperial gardens have been part of the ancient Chinese dynasty periods as they have been the retreat places of Chinese monarchs during the imperial period of China. I bet these parks are more lovelier in Spring or Summer when the trees are in full growth and flowers are in full bloom and in Autumn when all the leaves are turning yellow and red. But whatever the season is, these parks are lovely all the time.  

The gates at Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 2.
Exploring Wangfujing.
China as the next superpower? Its not far from reality. Its economic growth is in continuous progress over the years. Modernity is happening rapidly in the country. And it continuously embraces globalization. This is how I see China. Just seeing Beijing, you can see the pour of modernity and interest. But still remains as a tourist friendly city especially on its subways and its proximity to the cities sights and works on reducing the city’s pollution. No wonder every road leads to China.

Even the winter chill and cold blow of wind of March is covering up China during my visit, I still had an enjoyable stay there. My trip has been a fulfilling experience and discoveries. I gain again experiences of a lifetime – something that is very rewarding in every travel. I feel that it was a great opportunity to see one of the most interesting country in the world, experience their culture and see the next world superpower. With all the interesting sights I saw and experiences I had in China, I feel my five days stay in Beijing is not enough! The post-experience only wants me to return to China once more... but this time in Autumn, a season I never experience yet. China was once a close kingdom and regarded as a “Sleeping Dragon” but with all the rapid changes and growth that happened and on-going to the country and its continuous welcoming the change of times, the world is turning to East – to China.

Comments

  1. diko na talaga kaya ang borderless travels mo.magastos!!!nyahaha.baka next time pagkatingin ko nasa latin Alerica kana ha. hehe

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  2. @Makati Condo Rentals: Thanks for viewing!

    @Anton: Borderless travel talaga? Haha... Tagal ng plano 'to ngayon lang talaga natuloy after 2 years. How I wished Latin America is next...

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  3. pangarap kong makapag-lakad sa great wall of China... :)

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  4. @Mervs: Ako, I climb na the Great Wall, hehe... dream come true for me.

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  5. I dream to visit my motherland again one day. Nice post about Beijing 北京 you got there! Beijing happens to be the first city of China I ever got to live in.

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  6. @Photoblogger: Please come back to read my upcoming posts about my trip to Beijing last March. Xie xie!

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  7. Hi Ian! :) I love your pictures in Beijing. It is one of my dream destinations because my Mandarin teacher was from Beijing and she would always tell us nice stories of the place. I'm glad that despite the mishaps, you were able to go on your Beijing trip. What a nice birthday trip! :) I'll be looking forward to more stories from Beijing.

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  8. @Karla: Thanks for the appreciation! Come back sometime as I'm about to share the first of my stories in trip to China.

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  9. you have a nice blog, it's a good read and informative :)

    been to Beijing when I was young, sana makabalik ulit para makita ko yung Olympic Park!

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  10. @Arman: Thanks for visiting... I hope you visit Beijing someday. It has changed a lot from the past compare now.

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  11. The Great Wall of China is on my list of places to visit. I wonder when I'll be able to see this. Lucky you, you've been there already!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Plan it now. This trip was a dream come true for me. I have yet to finish this series of stories of my Beijing trip.

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