Beijing Journals

Return to Beijing

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An October 2004 trip to Beijing by Quan

Beijing photos Photo, Beijing, China More Photos
Quote: I last visited Beijing in summer of 1988. Now, more than 16 years later, I returned for another look. As I expected, much has changed. The "haves" say that it is for the better. I did not meet many "have-nots," but inequality is certainly growing by leaps and bounds.

Return to Beijing

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Overview

Beijing photos Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
My last visit to Beijing was with a "special" tour that China offered to overseas Chinese in an attempt to develop tourism. Back then, Beijing was a city full of bicycles, vendors peddling fruits and vegetables (and vendors were a people who were generally poor, but not unhappy), five-star accommodations that had no clue what service means, and gastronomic offerings that were, at best, plain and repetitive. These memories were born of a restrictive environment, with little exposure to the real Beijing -- our tour guide often reminded us that we were not to venture outside the hotel without his escort. In the last 16 years, Beijing -- and, of course, China as a whole -- has undergone some drastic econ...Read More

Lc The St Regis Beijing

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Hotel | "St. Regis"

Lc The St Regis Beijing Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
When traveling for personal reasons, I usually do it budget-style. However, I have always wondered what it was like to live like the rich and famous, so this time around, having racked up some Westin points, I made reservations for three nights at the St. Regis. My first reaction was that of surprise. After having driven past the Hyatt and its imposing, albeit crass and impersonal, glass façade that cried out loudly "we serve very important people," I was deposited in front of a fairly non-descript building. As it was set way back from the street, I did not see it until we drove to the front door. Although we came to appreciate the fact that it was all understated, our first reaction was close...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 15, 2004

Lc The St Regis Beijing
21 JIANGUOMENWAI DAJIE
Beijing, China
8610-6460-6688

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Qianjude Duck Restaurant"

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Peking duck is the ubiquitous dish of Beijing. Peking duck is a luxury, as this is the one meal where diners consume predominantly meat in a country where the average meal consists of mostly starch and vegetables. When in Beijing, Peking duck is strongly recommended. Qianjude Restaurant is to Peking duck what Peking duck is to Beijing; that is, it is probably the single most famous Peking duck restaurant, having been in business since 1964. The restaurant has a number of branches, and even the Beijing markets where we went in search of snacks carried Qianjude roast duck in to-go pouches. Dignitaries from around the world had all consumed duck from this restaurant, which dispenses thousands of du...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 15, 2004

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
32 Qianmen Avenue
Beijing, China 100051
+86 (0)10 6511 2418

Beijing Big Bell Museum

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Attraction | "Dazhong Shi (Big Bell Museum)"

Beijing Big Bell Museum Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Dazhongsi, or Big Bell Museum, is one of my favorite spots to visit in Beijing. It is a bit out of the way; in fact, it’s a lot out of the way of the usual sights, so you would have to make an effort to go see it, but believe me, it’s really Beijing’s most interesting museum. It is closest to the Summer Palace, but it’s still about a 15-minute cab ride away. I have not been able to find out whether there is public transportation there, but I am sure a combination of buses would take you there. I took a cab there after the Summer Palace. If I remembered correctly, the driver charged us about 30 yuan, or less than $4 (I think). Big Bell Museum, as its name implies, houses the largest and oldest ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 15, 2004

Beijing Big Bell Museum
A31, North Third Ring Road
Beijing, China
+86 (0)10 6255 0843

Jing Shan Park

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Attraction | "Jingshan Park"

Jing Shan Park Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
It is absolutely amazing that Beijing’s highest point was created from excess earth from the imperial moat that was dug around the Forbidden City. As Beijing is very flat, what the engineers did with this excess earth was ingenious. They essentially created views of the Forbidden City from this park, right across the northern gate. The park is well-manicured, and dotted here and there are some pretty bonsai. There are three ways to get to the top. If you have time to amble, the western and eastern walkways have gentler hills that follow roughly the circumference of the park. Or you can elect to reach the top by climbing the steep path in the middle. We chose the middle way. After a short but s...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2004

Jing Shan Park
Jing Shan East Street, North of the Forbidden City
Beijing, China
+86 (0)10 6404 4071

Train travel from Beijing

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Story/Tip

Waiting station for soft berth Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
One downside to staying at the St. Regis (see my entry on this hotel) is that I am utterly convinced that their entire travel/concierge staff gets downright incompetent when confronted with requests that are not of your usual "rich people" variety. Case in point: we wanted the hotel to help us book train tickets from Beijing to Zhengzhou, our next destination, about 6 to 8 hours from Beijing. You would not believe what we had to do to get this to happen. First, we were told that "we can only get hard-seat tickets for you." Never mind that even the Rough Guide has the following comments on hard-seat tickets: "(it) is really only recommended for the impecunious or on relatively short journeys… the air i...Read More

Wandering the hutongs of Beijing

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Story/Tip

Courtyard house Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Before leaving for Beijing, a friend warned me not to miss the hutongs of Beijing. In case you are wondering, the hutongs are ancient houses built around narrow and winding lanes that were the predominant features of old Beijing. According to the guidebooks I consulted, the hutongs have been yielding in the past number of years to large apartment buildings. Recently, preparation for the Olympics in 2008 contributed further to the leveling of the hutongs. So we made sure to include hutongs in our wonderings. Although, from Jingshan Park, we saw a large hutong area near the Lama Temple, our limited time in Beijing did not allow us to go there. Inste...Read More