SC was invited to present a paper at Peking University, Guanghua School of Management. Wow, unbelievable, right? What’s more, SC’s aunt sponsored Joey to accompany her to China! So first off, we would like to thank Nonang for making this trip possible for us.
Beijing is one of the best places to go to in Asia, especially if you want to experience traditinal Chinese, yet with a mix of modernity. Chinese people have a reputation for being arrogant and disrespectful, but we realized if you meet the mainland Chinese, they represent the yin and yang of balance, peace, and friendliness. They are among the most accommodating people to meet.
Writing about our week-long trip is quite hard to organize, so allow us to make sub-parts for easier organization.
1. Departure and Arrival
So we left Manila thru NAIA Terminal 2 early in the morning. And returned to Manila a week after thru NAIA Terminal 3.
Same goes with Beijing. We arrived at Beijing Capital Airport at Terminal 3, and left at Terminal 2.
What’s the reason for this? Well, we booked really late, with less than a month to go, so we had to take the best flight option we can. We even needed to pay extra to be back in Manila in time for the morning of Joey’s dad’s birthday. We ended up going to China through Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific on our way back.
Nonetheless, at least we got to see two terminals of Beijing. Their airport is really world-class, especially Terminal 3. Within Terminal 3, they even have a railway train to go around. And so we needed to ride a train from immigration to baggage claim.
Their airport is quite far from the main city area, but it’s no issue, because there is now a Capital Airport Train connecting to the inner and outer ring of their railway station.
2. Transportation and the Beijing Railway
Their railway is one of the best, with more or less 20 lines connecting one place to another. We did not even need to get a cab or taxi to go around the city. We only needed to know the station to get out of, the exit letter, and some cardio-filled walking.
There was only one time when we needed to ride a bus, which was to visit the great wall.
We bought their loadable transportation cards, which made everything easier for us. We just hop on and hop off their trains and busses without thinking of where to get tickets, lessening the language barrier when talking to their employees.
Plus! Just like other Chinese territories, using a transportation card would mean having a 50% discount on your fare for busses. Their trains are cheap so we guess that’s why it’s not discounted with the card. At the end of the trip, we also got to refund the card and the remaining balance.
The best part of our trip was the food!! We swear, after our trip to Beijing, Chinese food has never been so delicious. And now nothing can compare. From restaurants at the mall to street food, it was heaven for health enthusiasts!!!
We are healthy eaters, so we were initially scared of what food we’ll eat during our stay there. For Filipinos (and those traveling to other Chinese territories), Chinese food is mostly composed of fried rice and a rich-tasting viand, or some noodles with siomai or dumplings. To our surprise, siomai and dumplings were very rare in Beijing, in which we only got to see (and eat it) once.
Most of the food we ate in Beijing is healthy. And our favorite is their street food, Jianbing! In chinese, it’s called 煎饼果子, which is now very hard to find because the government started to ban street vendors ’cause they make the streets dirty and smelly (maybe we should do that here, too). We first tried it in a hutong (next blog post!), and it was so delicious we had a quest to find a jianbing seller near our place. We asked the girl from our hotel lobby and she took us to a place along the street selling breakfast food similar to jianbjng. It was delicious, also, but we were still craving for jianbing! Wurd.
Thankfully, while walking around the mall near our place, called The Gate (very distinct ’cause of its number 8 sign), we realized there was a place selling jianbing! And the store had different variations to jianbing. It was so heavenly, especially for health buffs like us, that we ate here at least once a day for three days. SC even ate two of these on our last day. JIANBING IS LOVE!
The Gate had a lot of restaurants and food stalls to choose from, and among the first we got to try was the noodle place at the top floor. It was so filling!! And cheap at the same time. We both tried different types of noodles, and it was one of the best Chinese noodles we’ve ever tried. We also ordered this sandwich with meat served ala asado style. Once again, it’s surprising that siopao is not a thing here, and this was the closest siopao we saw. And we swear, it was so good the siopao is nothing compared to this.
We also got to try this pack of seasoned squid, which got us so intrigued ’cause a lot of people were buying it. Joey isn’t into weird/exotic food, but he liked it, also. That’s how delicious it was.
We also got to try some of the best desserts: their frozen yogurt, churros with ice cream, and their DQ’s matcha ice cream!!!! It’s ironic how they love ice cream for a cold country. But Joey says it’s ’cause you need ice cream in your body to balance out the temperature. Werw.
They also love yogurt. Yogurt was everywhere!!!! Even milk tea, also. It’s much more common to see them than water. And they are even cheaper than water. Haha. Well, it was healthy, so go!!!
At the gate, we also found a stall who sells fried squid. Joey was so happy because we ate them too, at Wangfujing prior to seeinh them at the gate. It was so yummy!!!
Wangfujing is a street located a station away from the meridian gate/ forbidden city. It was a very busy place, and finding Wangfujing was hard. We only passed by it as an accident, so we were lucky we did not need to look for too long.
If you want exotic food, Wangfujing is the best place to be. It’s a bit pricey, though. Well, relative to other Beijing food places. While we were there, we thought it was cheap already. But apparently that’s their “tourist price” already. (Beijing is really cheap, ey!)
We got to try a lot of food at Wangfujing, and we liked them, also.
Walking the streets of Beijing, you’d notice their odd-smelling sausage. It was really odd at first but we got used to it, eventually. Well, for SC. Haha. Joey still finds it odd.
Eventually, SC tried it once and for all to solve her curiosity. Apparently, it was chorizo!! Hahaha. SC says it’s the best chorizo she ever tasted. From then on, it has been a staple afternoon snack, in which Joey tried it, eventually.
As for their fast food, we got to try Burger King. Well, Joey tried KFC, too, but he did not take a picture, so meh. HAHA. We’ll just talk about Burger King, which we tried at the foot of the Great Wall (see next blog post hihi!). We loved their Chicken Fries, which had a different flavor from our home country. We tried both cumin and hot & spicy flavor, and we liked them both, especially the former. It was only weird that the dip is sweet & sour sauce. Haha. We also ordered Nuggets and Grilled Chicken Burger.
We also loved going to their supermarkets and minimarts for some midnight snacks and late night drinks.
SC loved their supermarket goodies, she’s really a fan of those things. We also bought a lot of food for pasalubong!
Another pasalubong we bought for our families was their cheese tarts. Kinda like the egg tarts in Macau. They were really delicious, creamy, and oozing with goodness!
As for the airport food, it was also cheap, and yummy, too! Well, except for the prune juice. HAHA.
Among the things we miss in Beijing is the food. It’s heathy food everywhere, and cheap, too!
4. Olympic Village
On our second day, our hotel receptionist asked us if we have been to the Olympic Village. We told him that we were going the next morning, but then he said that it looks way better at night, so being the lakwachero’t lakwachera people we are, we immediately went there after having dinner at the gate.
There is so much hype about this place so we were excited to see it, also.
The Olympic Village is a really huge space. There isn’t really much to do, though, but view the place and the lights. Nonetheless, it is pretty amazing how the Chinese people conceptualized such a place so organized with its own roads and passages.
The funny part about going there was that when we were about to press the shutter button on our gopro, the lights of the bird’s nest turned off. HAHA. Talk about malas. But nonetheless, the water cube was just across it, and the lights were spectacular.
The olympic village was huge for tourists to walk around. There were many areas we were not able to go to because we were tired and it’s getting late. Besides, the Bird’s Nest is really the star of the olympic village, so seeing that was enough for us.
5. Beijing Zoo
Our journey going to Beijing Zoo was quick and easy since it is accessible by train. It even has it’s own station at Line 4.
When we got there, we looked at the ticket prices and went for the cheapest one on the list (hehehe budget). It was not a big problem because we were only there for one thing: to see a panda!
When we got in the first thing we did was go to the PANDAS!!!! 🐼🐼 There were a lot of Pandas,but all of them were sleeping when we got there… Huhu. Thankfully, after our patience and persistence in seeing a panda in action, one of the Pandas finally woke up! Yay. The Panda was walking around knowingly as if it knew that people have beeen waiting for him. Then he ate, which is usually what Pandas do most of the time when they are awake.
After the Panda ate his food, an unexpected twist happened….. We were all wondering what he was doing… until it finally hit us that he was giving himself a blow job!! We were so surprised since we both view Pandas as cute and cuddly creatures. Apparently, they have a different side. HAHA.
After the Pandas, we continued walking around the zoo (it was really cold that day brrrrr we wore three layers already but it’s still cold). We kept on looking at the map for directions but it was really confusing. The zoo was really nice, but we think it would have been better if there was a concrete path that people can follow because with the winding paths, people will surely miss something since it was really hard for us to find specific animals we wanted to see.
Another notable animal we saw there was the Polar Bear! The other Polar Bear was swimming while the other Polar Bear kept walking in circles, which looked weird so Joey made a joke that what if all of the animals were actually just robots and the polar Bear’s program hanged or broke. LOL.
After seeing the Polar Bears, we immediately tried looking for the Penguins. When we got to the place where the Penguins were supposed to be, we found out that it had an additional charge so we opted not to go… It was a pricey fee so we just opted to hang out outside…
While resting in one of the benches outside the penguin area, we saw the most unbelievable thing ever…. we saw a girl carrying a little boy with his shorts down then they ran towards the trash bin. They put a layer of tissue on the ground and made the boy poop in it. WOAH.
Since we were getting hungry and since it was getting really cold, we decided to go and look for a place to eat. We journeyed to another Hutong (which will be discussed in a different post). So that ends our Beijing Zoo journey!!
6. Peking University
Of course, this blog post won’t be complete without writing about Peking University.
First off, the best way for us to describe the uni is by comparing it to a Philippine University. It really feels like Ateneo de Manila; the buildings, the road, the aura of the place. We felt the place is very conducive for students to learn. Sadly, however, their classes are taught in Chinese (Mandarin), so international students cannot study here unless they know how to speak their language.
Their facilities are really modern and world-class, which isn’t surprising since they are among the top universities in the world, right?
Yay! So that’s it for our Part 1! We’ll write more about their traditional landmarks in Part 2, like the Great Wall, their hutongs, and the Summer Palace!
P.S. We were in so much trouble trying to find money changers. It’s not as common as in other places, so just a tip, change all your money at the Beijing airport or here in the country (good thing SC had Chinese Yuan already from Manila).