2008 Olympics infrastructures. Mao Zedong's preserved corpse. Center of China's government, culture, history and exotic foods.
These are just some of the reasons why I chose Beijing to be the destination that I went to during our spring break trip for foreign students in Fudan University a year go.
I wasn't disappointed. Except only from extra salty dishes and warmer weather as compared to Shanghai's (where I lived for 5 months) during the spring season of last year, Beijing is such a big, fascinating and friendly place to land on.
Here are 15 cool things we recommend you doing when you have the chance to visit the capital of the People's Republic of China.
1. Enter the Forbidden City. Yes. Anyone can now enter the Forbidden City. In fact, Forbes Magazine named this ancient place in China the most visited former royal residence in the world as of the year 2007. With whooping estimates of more than 7 million annual tourists and sightseers being welcomed by this former palace, it has become truly the most visited former royal palace in the entire world.
But why is the Forbidden City called Forbidden City?
Well uhm history put it that no one can enter nor leave the palace without the emperor's permission during the ancient times.
Imagine how much gate passes the emperor need to sign during those days. Hahaha. Just kidding.
2. Befriend the locals. I love the warmth of the Beijing people. They smile a lot and are very friendly. They don't get tired answering long questions about directions, details about the place, where to buy cheap stuffs and etc. They don't get pissed when you haggle too much for their products too! Overall, they're cool people and nice to talk with.
One of the reasons why I loved our Bejing trip in China is because of our very warm and hospitable tour guide named Candy (her English name), a Beijingnese who toured us around Beijing. She got teary-eyed when we said goodbye to her after our 3-day trip.
If you love warm and hospitable people, go to China! (Tip: It's a big plus if you can speak a little Chinese. A non-Chinese looking guy who can speak Mandarin Chinese is enough to make some Chinese folks' eye go wide out of awe!)
3. Find the Friendship Tree. Actually these are two trees appearing to be embracing each other. It's cute! Find it in the middle of the Forbidden City and then grab a friend to take a picture under it. Awesome experience.
4. Take a picture of interesting tourists. Interesting places attract interesting people. Take a look around and try to see if you can find someone as courageous and as cool as this guy!
5. Talk to smart Chinese tweens in English. Aside from being cute and only one per family, Chinese kids are very smart. Some of the colleagues who I went to Fudan University with who volunteered to teach English to elementary students told me how hardcore students Chinese kids were. They actually do advance readings before the lesson and they finish the book from cover to cover! You'll be astounded as to how some of them will speak to you fluently in English.
6. Play with cute Chinese babies. Your artificial blush-ons will melt away with envy if you happen to see the cute rosy-cheeked babies and toddlers in China. They're very round, cuddly, fluffy, chinky-eyed and very energetic! If you like cute babies and toddlers, consider stepping on the land of the Sleeping Giant.
7. Taste the real Peking Duck. Forget about the Peking Duck your local Chinese Restaurant is offering. Save up your penny enough to take you to Beijing! I like the sauce for the Peking Duck a lot. Very much similar to the sauce of the Philippines' Asado Siopao.
8. Get your own Chinese name. Having Chinese names is imperative to people who are planning to take some studies in China. But don't worry, you can ask help from the faculty members of the school or university you are planning to attend in. But if you're a tourist, there are local shops all over China engraving Chinese names on signature stamps or chops. You can ask help from them to find a name for yourself and then have them create a chop with your name on it.
A group calligraphers in Beijing's Summer Palace are writing Chinese names on the pavements using water for FREE! If it's possible, have your Chinese name before visiting this place and then give it to the calligraphers to write. Then, picture picture!
9. Unwind at the Summer Palace. Did you know that the Summer Palace or the Gardens of Nurtured Harmony actually served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager, a very powerful and influential female Chinese leader during the 19th century? It is said that she spent gazillions of silver for the reconstruction and enlargement of this summer resort after it suffered numerous attacks from the foreign invaders.
So by all means allow yourself to unwind like an emperor or empress on this magnificent summer resort when you go to Beijing!
10. Pray at the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven served as a place for prayer rallies during the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Every year during the ancient times, the emperor will take the center and along his people they will pray for a bountiful harvest.
Today, this beautifully designed prayer complex is open to everybody. No more prayer rallies with the emperor though.
11. Wear Chinese colorful costumes for rent. Almost anywhere within or near tourist spots in China are local shops offering traditional costumes for rent. They'll let you wear 'em and then take a photo of you. So cool! You might wanna take this chance for an experience to wear an emperor's clothing in China with the whole Forbidden City as the background eh?
12. Get silly! Yeah. You can take your friends to pose like this at the Heaven's Temple. The sillier, the better!
13. Get inside a porcelain factory. Get ready to be amazed at the ingenuity and greatness of Chinese craftsmanship when you enter a porcelain factory. You'll see people creating intricate designs on the porcelains and then you can purchase their products at the shop near the exit. They sell tension balls, bookmarks, lighter cases, vases and etc.
14. Get Unlimited at Origus! Origus. Origus. Origus. Who wouldn't love Origus?
Where have you seen an eat-all-you-can restaurant offering unlimited serve-yourself sundaes?
Aside from the main course which may consist of pasta, pizza, chicken, fries and etc., you'll you never run out of supply and choices for your desserts and drinks. This restaurant drove me crazy! Don't leave Beijing without dining at Origus.
15. Climb the Great Wall. Can anyone really leave Beijing without seeing the Great Wall?
This very important landmark in China and a wonder of the world is probably most of the tourists' primary reason for setting foot on Beijing. Once a fortress against various nomadic groups threatening to invade the Middle Kingdom, it is now open to everybody who would like to experience the great climb on the greatest wall ever built on the face of the planet.
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. Beijing, China. Why don't you click on the "Post a Comment" link below to let us know what you have in mind? Thanks for readin'!