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Friday, February 26, 2010

From freezing to humid weather =P

赛特饭店 建国门外大街 北京

On the fourth day of CNY I boarded the MH370 at 2345 hours heading to Beijing, China. We had packed our stuff for the entire day before this. My uncs drove us there, along with my aunts and grandma to see us off. It was the first time going overseas and getting there by aeroplane for my sis and me. So excited~ XD Throughout most of the flight I slept, waking up only when they were serving meals and stuff XD.

永和大王 - 豆浆油条

MH370 arrived at Beijing International Airport at 0630 and one of dad's acquaintances (I think) picked us up from the airport to take us to the hotel. Once we got off the plane, the cold was too much and we opened our hand-luggage to get the jackets, and by the time we were done everyone was gone to the luggage carousel. =X Guess what? Dad mixed up the dates of our flight and was arriving THE FOLLOWING NIGHT, and the person who picked us up was from just moved to Beijing from Dalian and was not familiar with the roads, so we got to the hotel by taxi. Taxi fares there are crazy - here in M'sia you pay RM3 for getting on, there you pay RMB20, which is RM10 (approximately), but the good thing about the transportation there is that the buses and subways are all flat priced, no matter where you go~ =D


We snoozed in the hotel until lunch-time, around 1300 hours. Dad had said to eat fast food so as to not get cash-scammed by local restaurant owners. =P One thing about not being a real local Chinese is that the locals think we're stupid and charge impossible prices for regular things like noodles and such which obviously would not cost so much if you WERE local. *sigh~* We spotted a McD nearby and walked there in the -2°C streets, with the wind howling. One thing about living in a tropical country, in this case M'sia, which is around 25-28°C all year round, popping into a country with such cold weather you'll think that you'll just freeze there on the spot. =P


Adjoining with the hotel was a plaza of the same name (SciTech), so we had a lookie-see what was on the racks this season. Most of the clothes were late winter clothing, thick with lots of lining and stuff (that includes shoes... do you know how many types of boots there are there?!) We went back to the hotel empty-handed, then snoozed again... XD For dinner we had McD again, 'cause there were no other fast food outlets nearby that we could go to without getting lost. Traffic is crazy there - road lines aren't taken into consideration, the traffic lights are something like sidewalk decorations... =P


At 2257 hours that evening, dad arrived at the hotel, along with his huge pink-and-purple Lojel suitcase containing lots of winter clothing. The initial plan before we went there was that we just pack our essentials like toothbrushes, skin care, whatever and he provide the winter clothing. Thank God mum decided to borrow winter clothing from my aunts and uncs, if not we would already have froze in that weather.


Dad had borrowed his brother's driver (driving a Buick Regal, mind you, a really nice car~) for our trip to take us around Beijing, since he was a local. =) At 0630, we went around to the back of the hotel to have breakfast at Yonghe King, which sells mainly soy bean milk and youtiao (fried sticks of dough =P). Speaking of Yonghe, there are lots and lots of restaurants with the same name (永和) and selling the same things, but they're not of the same origin, which means that the English names, the quality of the stuff and the menus differs.
After the lovely Taiwanese-style breakfast, we went to the Great Wall of China~! In my opinion, the place is over explored - too many people all over the place. The only shoes I had were my high-heeled boots, so imagine walking those slopes and steps in 2" heels. Initially I had wanted to bring along my sneaks, but our bags were already jam-packed (literally). What we did there was admire the snow-capped mountains, the beautiful scenery, the ancient wonder and took lots of pics, then got out of there because there were too many people, there was not much else to see and my feet were killing me. XP


The Ming 13 Tombs was the place where the few well-known and great emperors were buried. It's actually a valley between around 13 hills and mountains, and each tomb is located at one hill or mountain, signifying ... I dunno, power? Anyways, we tagged along with a tour-group and listened to the intros to the only tomb that was opened to the public. The tomb of the emperor that we visited had 2 of his empresses buried with him. According to the tour guide, the emperor wanted everything in the tomb to be preserved forever, so he had his tomb sealed up and inside the tomb placed a huge vat (?) which contained incense and other scented woods or such which was lit to burn all of the oxygen in the tomb to preserve the bodies and such.

京味面大王 - 专卖炸酱面

After that we headed for lunch at ... I forgotten where. According to my records it's at the Beijing APM. =P After lunch at around 1500, we went to Parkson on Jinrong Dajie to lookie-around and get some essentials like bottled water. Although there was drinking water (from the tap) in the hotel, dad said it would be better if we drank boiled or bottled water. Seriously, after the milk powder case it's almost impossible to trust China-made stuff.... =P At 1600 we were back at the hotel for a little nap. We took the subway to Wangfujin station at 1930. We walked the main road till we turned into a small, crowded street called Wangfujin Xiaochijie, which sells almost all kinds of food - from noodles to beef balls, and bizarre foods like seahorses, live scopions and grubs. *face turning green...* I was still in my boots when we left, so my mum decided to put me out of my misery and get me a pair of shoes there and then. We went to a sports shop and got a pair of black sports shoes with yellow lining and laces, , for RMB 339, branded Li-Ning, China's top local brand.


We walked to a place selling only Goubuli dumplings. The story goes that there was this couple that had a son and names him Gouzi (little dog) in hopes that he'll lead a peaceful life. When Gouzi was 16 he worked at a small dumpling restaurant and his work and attitude got praise and such from his boss. He was so successful that he opened his own stall selling dumplings and was really successful. With the overwhelming demand for his delicious dumplings he was constantly busy making dumplings that he did not take the time to socialize with the customers and they always said that 'Gouzi is so busy that he ignores his customers', and after a long time they called his signature dumplings 'Goubuli' (Gou ignores). Weird story, and I didn't find the dumplings all that special.

My first Smirnoff~ I'm one step closer to Uruha-sama~~

That night we had our real dinner at Yonghe King, at 2143, which was way pass all of our usual dinner times. The next morning we had breakfast at Yonghe King again - the soy bean milk and the youtiaos were irresistible (except for one time that they burnt the soy bean milk). At 0910 we visited the Forbidden City. It was hard to imagine that many centuries ago an emperor lived in those walls, with his x number of concubines, his y number of wives, z number of imperial guards, etc...


We finished our tour at 1154, then proceeded for zhajiangmian lunch at a place called Jinweimian Dawang, recommended by Mr Wang (driver XD). Food there was wonderful, but as typical local Chinese, there was much leftover. According to Chinese beliefs or whatever you call it, if you finish whatever that's on the table that means you've not had enough to eat. =_=

海底捞火锅 - 超好吃火锅 + 超好服务

After lunch we headed for Yiheyuan, or the Summer Palace in English. This is the place where the newly-wed emperor and empress stays for the first few weeks (I think) after the marriage ceremony. The place is surprisingly tiny, considering that it's for the emperor... =P We walked around the whole place, and in my opinion the only thing to wow about was the workmanship put into every little detail of the construction and furnishing despite the measly amount the people were paid to do the job, and another thing is that if you mess up the job you get beheaded. That's a harsh price to pay for building a palace for an emperor, even if he was the closest to God and all that.


At 1604 we headed for Xiushuijie Pearl/Silk market. Everything sold there - Abercrombie, Chanel, Gucci, etc - are ALL IMITATIONS. Plus, the prices are IMPOSSIBLE!!! For a T-shirt they charge you RMB80, sometimes RMB100, and the quality ain't good, but there's the branded logo there. We walked out empty handed, then had dinner at Hongjuangyuan, right beside Yonghe King behind the hotel. Hongjuangyuan sold porridge, and I'm really not used to the porridges there, 'cause they're more dilute - less rice (or whatever it is) and much more of the soup or whatever. Mum and I shared a Hongjuangyuan special.


Yonghe King was for breakfast the next day - we just couldn't get enough of it. XD After breakfast we headed to the Temple of Heaven. The entrance fees there are crazily absurd - entrance to the place itself costs this much, and to enter the highlights of the place (like the temple itself) you have to pay a separate fee and so on. Despite being so full of artistic stuff and culture and whatever, the people there don't know how to advertise (or whatever you call it to make it more tourist-friendly), and they only know how to cash-in and won't cash out for a better amount of cash coming in. =~= After a cold walk around the gardens of the temple, we went for steamboat at Haidilao Huoguo to warm up. Service there was really good, and the food was well worth the money (although I don't know how much the meal cost =P).


I hope you guys still remember the 2008 Olympics in Beijing - we visited the Bird's Nest Stadium and the Water Cube. Entrance to the immediate area around the two monuments were free of charge, but to enter the Bird's Nest (it seems that entry to the Water Cube is not available) you gotta pay. And since it was still winter, some kind of snow-themed amusement park was going on, but the whole area was fenced up and we couldn't find the entry point. XP
The signs in the toilets around the Olympic Park was extremely laughable. You would assume that since the place would be visited by people from all over the world, you would at least do your research properly and transalate the signs correctly. OMG... Anyway we went to McD in the Olympic Park for coffee, then walked around Chaoyang Theatre after buying the tickets while waiting for the Flying Acrobatics show to start. We went to some electrical stores looking for the OPPO cigarette jack MP3 player (for the car), but they didn't have it. :(


The Flying Acrobatics show started at 1715, and the ticket pricing is really strange. Usually the front row tickets are the most expensive, and as the seats get further and further away from the stage or screen, the tickets get cheaper, but there the cheapest tickets were the front seat tickets, and for the seats right at the back were the most expensive. O.o The show was breath-taking, and is a must for every tourist. =) We had Shanghai dinner at Laonongtang also behind Scitech Hotel, just a few doors down from Yonghe King, but the food wasn't worth it, but at least we got to try the lion head (crab meat balls with something else I forgot =P)

王记酱骨头馆,沈阳 - 从左:土豆泥,骨头,豆腐干(?)

Guess what we had for breakfast the next morning? Guess. I think you got it right. Yes, Yonghe King, again. XD After breakfast we took the subway to Hongqiao Pearl Market. It was more or less like Xiushuijie, and both of them a lot like Petaling Street. =P We had lunch at the nearby Yoshinoya. Over there the Yoshinoya is like Japanese fast food, though I'm not very sure how it is in M'sia, I'll have to go check it out. We checked out of our hotel at 1350 then picked up Unc Simon (which was the reason why we were there in the first place XD) from Chongwenmen Hotel. We were taking the plane to Shenyang, and the weather forcast the previous night was that it was snowing. O________O For local flights (within country perimeters), you can use an electronic automatic machine thingie to check-in, but minors under 12 must be checked in at the check-in counters. After checking the luggage and my sis and all that, we looked for a fast food place to wait for our flight, which was at around 1635. We went to KFC Select and chatted over coffee and egg tarts (!!!!). There were so many planes waiting to take off that we waited for around half an hour in the plane before take-off. =s

Bacardi Superior and Smirnoff Triple Distilled Vodka~~ (I think this is more of the kind that Uruha-sama drinks XDXDXD)

We arrived at Shenyang Airport at 1838 and was picked up by Unc Simon's driver (why do they all have drivers? =~=). We were dropped off at Wangjijiang Gutouguan for dinner, which sells mainly bones and you suck the marrow out of the bone. Super-deelish~~~ Of course we ordered some sides, like deelish mashed potato (seriously mashed, not like KFC's instant whipped potatoes =P). We went around the nearby area and was picked up and dropped off by Unc Simon's driver (let's just call him Unc Kang) at dad's new apartment.

Pheasants and hares up for grabs... Ugh..

Next morning 1035 we went to dad's old apartment nearby to help him move some stuff (we got there again by pick and drop of another driver, whom my sis labels 'FAT' XP). After moving we went to a small restaurant near dad's place called Lugangxiaozhen Taiwan Xiaochi. The menu there was hilarious - the was this dish which consisted of some beef, the English translation was 'Business was brisk Beef'. Another Hakka dish was captioned 'Hakka slightly fries'. I was like OMG, and took pics of almost the whole menu. =D Now for some extraordinary phenomenons - we went to Guaibo. 'Guai' as in weird, 'bo' as in slope or hillside. This is the case - you drive onto the slope, the slope looks like it is going up hill. You stop at the middle of the slope and put the vehicle to free gear, and surprisingly enough you're actually going forewards instead of going backward down the slope. And vice versa for the downhill slope. They haven't found the real reason for this natural phenomenon yet, but some suggests that it's because of the magnetic field.


Now for a mini version of the Harbin Snow Festival and some snow ball throwing. *evil grins* We went up to Qipanshan's snow world, where they charge, again, crazy prices for the rides and such there, the ice sculptures were already melting, but we had fun throwing snow at each other all the same. =) At 1653 we were at Parkson Shenyang. The driver (I didn't catch any name, so let's call him Versacey like it says on his shirt) drove into the parking lot and it so happens that they were cleaning the poop tank (or something like that) and we almost died from lack of oxygen. XP Dad went up to his office to look for his stuff while the rest of us (not including Versacey) went around looking for a toilet (located somewhere in the middle of a video arcade o.O) then looked at the clothes around. We were treated to dinner by Unc Simon at Manxiangfang Laocaiguan near Parkson Shenyang which more or less specializes in wines, especially rice wines. Unc Kang fetched us all back once again. =P


At 0945 the next morning we went mega-moving of dad's stuff (well, mega compared to the precious move). By 1033 we were on the way to Wanda Building while dad stopped a while to get some stuff from a small shop called Mr Potato which sold, as the name suggests, potatoes and other potato-related stuff (is corn related to potatoes?). The first time we walked around Parkson dad took us to the shoes floor and pointed out some really cute doll heels (in Chinese the call it that), but when I turned the display shoe over the price tag read - OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - RMB639+!!! Seriously, the shoes are nice and all, but over RM300 for a pair of shoes?! Throughout the whole walk of the mall of the second time, dad kept telling us to get stuff and he'll pay for it, da-da-da, but we just couldn't. The most expensive we bought was a dress for just over RM100, and I think none of our shoes cost over RM110. I'm currently using the Revlon Double Twist and it costs about RM30+ for a tube here in Guardian, but the counter in Parkson Shenyang sold it at RMB159, which roughly divided by 2 equals to RM80. O__________O


Next to Parkson Shenyang was an Isetan building, in which on the 7th floor was a Japanese restaurant called UOMAN (supposedly frequently visited by dad and Unc Simon). The price of the stuff there was reasonable enough, and also in rather large portions, so I would say it was worth the money, but although dad insisted on paying, Unc Simon more or less beat him to the cashier. Grr... XD After paying for and collecting our stuff (which includes one tube of Opera Japan Volume Control mascara recommended by Unc Simon's wife at RMB59, slightly cheaper than local mascara prices), we proceeded to the former Marshal's Residence. Entrance fees - RMB50 per head, no half price, but it includes the pass to the Currency Museum of Shenyang. Dad was the most fascinated by the place, while the three of us were more or less enjoying the cold air outside the exhibition rooms.


The currency museum was also not much interest to us, so we headed for dinner. Versacey joined us this time (why did he have to sit right opposite me =__=), we had Korean grill for dinner at Handu (jam-packed, and if you don't want to wait for downstairs tables you gotta pay extra RMB5 for a table upstairs o.O). The food was mostly good, and so was the rice wine~ XD (I'm becoming an alchoholic =P) Unc Kang picked us up the next morning, taking us to Benxishuidong, a hill with the longest underground river. Entrance fees - RMB150 per head. Go jump off a cliff, you money-sucking ticket sellers. =P We went around the hill breathing in the fresh air and almost slipping on the icy paths, then went on a boat (included) to have a tour on the river. For lunch we went to a nearby family restaurant called Xiesanjuan Lvyoufandian. This time Unc Kang treated us, but the food ordered was way too much, and most of the food was left uneaten. =(


After a long battle in the rainy and jammed streets of Shenyang, we finally arrived at Bainaohui, something like the Low Yat Plaza of Shenyang to look for the cigarette jack MP3 player. According to all the counter girls, they were out of stock, THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE COUNTRY. We were back at dad's place at 1530+, so we packed our stuff and dawdled around till dinner time, then walked out to a nearby Korean grill restaurant for dinner. At 2005 hours Versacey picked us up and our luggage and drove us to the Shenyang North Train Station. At 2103 We boarded the K54 train to Beijing. We had berths to sleep in. XD


At 0715 the following morning we arrived at Beijing Station, dropped off our luggage at the luggage storer and went to the Yung Ho soy bean restaurant for breakfast. The youtiao were much bigger, but the soy bean milk was like the normal packaged soy bean milk drinks. =P We lounged in a McD next to the New World Mall near Beijing Station to wait for the stores to open. At 1000 sharp, the glass doors to the mall opened. The first floor consisted of skincare, makeup and shoes. Seriously, that mall is more or less a makeup junkie's paradise - they have Sephora (or I think that's another mall somewhere nearby =P), and they have Bobbi Brown, Benefit, MAC, Laneige, and other cosmetic counters.

For brunch before boarding the shuttle bus to the airport, we ate at Mr Lee, which specializes in Californian beef noodles. I had a spicy zhajiangmian (so NOT spicy, but rather salty =s), mum had a spicy beef noodle (now that one was nice~ XD), and sis had ... I forgot. =D Anyways, we walked to the place where all the shuttle buses are parked and bought the tickets (RMB16 per person) and arrived at the airport at 1249 (about 45 minutes). We said our goodbyes, went through security check, immigration, etc, then boarded the MH379 to KL. The flight was delayed by around a half hour due to late arrival of the Airbus 330 (I think).

老爸 + 超长油条 XD

We arrived at KLIA at 2314, went to security check, etc, got some requested stuff, some chocolates, then headed to the luggage carousel. We got our limo coupon, and loaded our stuff into the spacious trunk of a Proton Perdana and made our way home by MAJU Expressway, which was really express. =) We arrived home finding the people in the house were still awake. We roughly unpacked, I told the rough itinerary of the whole trip, then went to bed.

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