Well I am back from my first visit to mainland China (Beijing) and thought it was very nice and impressive!! In some ways it was all I expected, with a mix of unbelievable sights, the inability to communicate with anyone remotely off the beaten path, lots of hooky gear to buy and good food.
This post will concentrate on the leisure side, I will put something down on the conference later.
Beijing in big, and I mean big!! Probably the biggest city I have been too or at least it feels like that. The thing that strikes you is how clean the place is (or at least the limited places I went too). Compared to other asian cities it is spotless (I compare to Manila, KL, HK and Jakarta), the only other places that comes close in Asia is Singapore. I guess with a national population of 1.5 billion you need to employ some cleaners to impress the westerners.
Most people I met appear to be happy yo see you and willing to help, even the cab drivers didn’t try to rip me off (well all except one). The staff in the hotel were great (but it was an expensive hotel) and gave me some good tips of places to go an things not too do.
Well I didnt see much but did get to see the forbidden City and the Great Wall, along with those two epics I did the usual wandering about and got lost in Tiananmen Square! The places are saw are everything I expected and then some! Really they didnt look real as I have seen so many pictures of them but great to be able to say ‘been there, done that’. I think when I go back I will head of the beaten track a bit and see some of the ‘real’ Beijing. Once I work out how to add pictures to the blog I will post some here.
I did the tourist thing and went to the Silk Market and headed direct to the basement where all the fake gear can be found!! I had a list of bags and watches to buy and it was tough negotiating but I got a good price (but probably double what I should have paid). On my return to The Netherlands I got turned over by customs but they were nice enough and let me keep all the gear!
Had to do the ‘Peking Duck’ thing and must say I was not disappointed!! The whole experience was great with them showing the carving and making use of of the whole bird (something my mate Mark is good at), added to the fact we were the only westerners in the place proved it was a good choice. However the best eating experience was to be found on Dongzhimen Street where the real local food can be found, its a good job the restaurants have menu’s with pictures!
Beijing was everything I expected but a lot cleaner than I had been led to believe, next time I will venture off of the beaten track and see what it is really like. Being away from home for 7 days was tough but worth it in the end. I look forward to my next trip to Beijing next year!.