Travelogue

Beijing 2014: A Springtime Story (Part I)

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Vacations never last long enough. In our case, despite spending six days in Beijing, we still felt like there was still so much more to see and do there. I decided to call the six part Beijing travel series A Springtime Story, because it was Spring there and we came home with quite a story to tell right from the beginning.

Zizi, my guide and travel buddy, decided last year after our Bangkok trip that the two of us explore Beijing. It sounded like an adventurous pick and we went ahead with the planning. A month before our trip, we found out that Amir and Elham planned to surprise us at our hotel with their arrival. But, too bad, surprise failed because kena pao! Zizi and I went on our flight first but Amir and Elham still came by to meet us when they arrived later.

That surprise might have failed but Beijing never did! One moment you’ll be awed by the magnificent scenery, the next, you’ll be shocked by someone staring right in front of your camera lens digging his nose. This is a tale of four friends and their experience in Beijing – A Springtime Story.

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Us with no makeup on board Cathay Pacific on the way to stop over at Hong Kong. Zizi and myself initially planned to go in March but due to Shine’s Birthday and some of Zizi’s work commitments, we pushed back our plans to April. And we were lucky we did! To think that we could’ve been on MH370 seeing the date, destination and how we were always up for cheap flights! Thank you God for a safe and happy journey.

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beijing2014crowneplazahotel
Address: 48, Wangfujing Ave, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China.

Crowne Plaza Beijing is located at the heart of the city’s prime shopping and cultural district at Wangfujing with easy access to shopping, food and transportation. 45-minute drive to the airport; 15-minute drive to the Train Station.

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I was very satisfied with our hotel despite having to switch rooms upon arrival due to the spoilt air-conditioner. I slept like a baby for the nights we spent there (actually, I can fall asleep everywhere else too) maybe due to our jam-packed itinerary and from all that walking. Also had some very interesting gossip sessions here together with Elham and Amir.

So since we arrived in the late evening, unpacked our luggages, switched rooms, unpacked again and showered, there was nothing much to explore except the city life at night in Wangfujing and go in search for Hai Di Lao for dinner.

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Wangfujing is located in Dongcheng District, Beijing, and is one of the Chinese capital’s most famous shopping streets. The majority of the main shopping area is pedestrianised and is very popular for shopping for both tourists and residents of the capital. Since the middle of the Ming Dynasty there have been commercial activities in this place. In the Qing Dynasty, ten aristocratic estates and princess residence were built here, soon after when a well full of sweet water was discovered, thereby giving the street its name “Wang Fu” (princely residence), “Jing” (well).

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We felt safe and carefree despite it being our very first night there. There were big bright city lights and lots of people walking around in their coats (people in coats are not a common sight where I come from since we live near the equator, its always hot in Singapore). I was quite amused by the roads on Wangfujing. The roads are pedestrian walkway! People would casually walk on the road until a car comes by. I don’t know how they do that but Zizi and me kept to the sides.

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The weather was very chilly at night so I’m glad we picked our thick coats for our first night out in Beijing. We wanted a nice memorable dinner for our first girlfriends’ night out in Beijing so we badly wanted to have Hai Di Lao. It was a frivolous search. We literally went high, low and around Wangfujing in search of Hai Di Lao. We have to thank our sense of smell and rumbling tummies for finally finding our beloved Hai Di Lao tucked on the sixth floor of a partially renovating shopping center.

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Hai Di Lao is a chain of hot pot restaurants founded in Sichuan Province, China in 1994. At an early phase, it was a small shop selling “hot and spicy soup”. Later it developed and expanded its menu range. Over the past 16 years, it has owned more than 80 direct marketing stores in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing and many other major cities. There is an outlet in Singapore but my first experience was on this night in Wangfujing.

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The search for Hai Di Lao was very worth it! The food was so good! We had so much to eat, a big feast for just the two of us and we only spent about 60SGD! We loved it so much that we would bring Amir and Elham for another round. We walked around a bit more before heading back to our hotel.

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Back at our hotel, we decided to play around with the TV channels and discovered HBO. Now ladies and gentlemen, I would like you all to know that these 2 Evian bottles cost us around 20SGD! By far the most expensive mineral water I’ve purchased in my life. Why so expensive? Because they’re imported water. We only found out later that imported goods into China are crazy expensive. So our attempt to buy familiar brands to drink failed lol. So we ended up sticking to a Spring Water brand that we felt comfortable with.

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My moolahs all decked in a circle for the purpose of feeling rich before I separate them for tours, into my hand carry bag and ‘coffeeshop aunty pouch’.

And that was my first night in Beijing. Be sure to check out the rest of A Springtime Story.

Beijing 2014 A Springtime Story:
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

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