So one of the reasons I decided to visit China was because my boyfriend was working abroad for the world athletic championships and it was one of the places I wanted to visit him while he was away (great excuse for a holiday eh?!) I spent Thursday day visiting the grounds of the Bird's Nest (where the olympics was held). The stadium is unreal! The architecture, the lighting around it (especially at night!) and the surrounding function areas are so cool- especially the water cube! Not going to lie, I hit a slump Thursday afternoon and I wasn't sure if this was due to jet lag hitting in, so I crossed any plans of list and decided to make full use of the hotel amenities that I hadn't used already! So as well as a delicious breakfast and daily refilled complimentary mini bar- Hotel Eclat also offers an amazing Afternoon Tea between 2-5pm full of quiches, Parisienne cakes and....a sweet cart! Yep, a whole sweet cart, that I (unashamedly!) helped myself generously too many times. The Hotel also offers Happy Hour between 6-8pm, so Thursday evening was spent with way too many glasses of Brut and a very full tummy!
Friday 28th May:
Tiananmen Square, Shopping and Food (yes more food!) Day! I really didn't plan to do shopping in Beijing. Cheekily, I booked a four day stopover in Dubai on the way home from China so was hoping to save a few pennies from my usual shopping antics that I engage in while on holidays- but clothes are SO cheap in Beijing and you really can haggle! I picked up an amazing baby blue suede jacket for €8 and a few tops in tiny shops that are littered across the city!
Note: If your curvy like me, prepare to ask for a way bigger size then normal. I'm considered really big compared to the the petite asian ladies- so all my labels are much bigger then what I would take back home!
Tiananmen Square was also visited. It's a large square that separates the Forbidden City off but is surrounded by vastly (and I don't use that word lightly!) communist government buildings. It's a typical tourist spot- but worthy of an 1 hour of your time.
Note: You need i.d with you to access this area- in fact your passport should be on you at all times! This might seem strange in Ireland or the UK, but it often common to have identification on you in many other parts of the world.
I also visited Wangfujing snack street- a maze full of yummy (and safe!!!) street food where you can find everything from fried scorpions, to sweet dumplings to asian bean drinks! Food and drinks are incredibly cheap in China. I way over-estimated the amount of money to bring over- and if you were on a very tight budget or let's say bag packing and city hopping over Asia- you could easily eat on a budget of around €20 a day from street snack stalls.
Saturday 29th May:
Today was Antique Market day at PANJIAYUUAN MARKET, which runs 7 days a week but from 4.30am-6pm on Saturdays. I got there just after lunch time (due to my love affair with the rainforest shower in my hotel room that I literally spent an hour under!!!) but that was plenty of time. I was advised that not everything is actually antique, so if your coming to buy some gems, you would really want to know what your looking for. I just knew I wanted some Foo Dog statues as I really wasn't fussed if they were antique or not. The Chinese have an ability to turn something brand new and make it look like it's about 100 years old and vice versa...lol! Come prepared with a budget and a notepad and pen. No body speaks english, but every body talks numbers and they want to do business with you. I scanned the whole market first and made notes on items I liked (I didn't show my keenness too much!) and then returned back after. Be prepared to haggle and have fun! Don't give in too easily- if you look foreign they will charge you way more then the actual price. Put it this way, my Foo Dogs statues were triple the price the first time I asked...
Saturday evening was really my last formal dinner so I decided to go all out and visit a Duck restaurant and order the whole shebang! Yep, one whole duck to myself! The affair is rather splendid...the chef comes out with the cooked duck and cuts it infront of you and and one of the hosts then demonstrates the various accompaniments with it; the sesame bun being paired with a bit of raw ginger mince, some duck and hoisin sauce and the pancake + duck paired with traditional spring onion and cucumber but also some melon. I literally had to be rolled into a taxi and then into my bed! Major food coma!
Sunday 30th May:
Last day in China. I had evening tickets for the final day of the championships so spent the morning and early afternoon at the 798 District (an art district) that was once occupied by the Germans during the World War and is full of converted armoury factories into art galleries. The 798 district is amazing and pretty much free! Some of the galleries charge a ridiculously cheap 1 yuan entry (14cent!) but most are free and you have the opportunity to see Asian classical and contemporary art work. Lunch was in one of the cool vibe eateries there too. There are also some (rave reviewed) coffee shops in the district, but I didn't come to China for coffee so wasn't really interested in that!
Sunday evening was spent in the Birds Nest at Row 4 (15ft from Mr Bolt himself receiving his relay medal!) and myself and Ev spent the rest of the evening in the Beer garden near his hotel feasting on as much asian food that would last me until I choose when next to return...
Monday morning was a very early start (3am) to catch the red eye flight to Dubai where I impulsively chose to extend my holiday and stay a few days. I got a few mails asking for recommendations on Dubai on what I thought of it...so hope to do one of those posts soon!
Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!