Saturday, September 27, 2014

Family Holiday to Beijing - Sept 2014

Finally, a Saturday morning that felt like a Saturday morning. I have not have a single rest for the past whole month. (And I am working tomorrow, to inspect the IGVs of 11 and 12).
Even Superman has his off-days right?
In the midst of burying myself in the GT Hall, I took a short break to travel to Beijing with my family.
Speaking about travels that are significant, this must surely be in my top 3.
For the first time in my 27 years of life, I saw a glow in dad’s eyes, the excitement, in having to opportunity to visit Beijing, the eternal capital of China. To be quite honest, I’ve never seen him wanting to visit a place so badly, besides his home-coming to Xiamen.
For ages, Dad has been itching to visit The Great Wall, ‘做个好汉’ like what Chairman Mao used to say.
And I am just happy that I was capable of stringing everything together for the family for this trip.
Prior to the 6D8N trip (12-19 Sept), I hid myself among GT 13, which was having a C-Insp. Definitely have to thank my manager and colleague for standing-in for me while I am away.
Before the trip even started, we had a scare. Mom, dad and bro travelled up from JB to meet me at Nilai, but my sisters were uncharacteristically late from our meeting time. Luckily I had set the gathering time slightly earlier. No one said much, we were just relieved they managed to reach on time.
We took the 6.45pm flight out of KL, via KLIA2, which in my opinion, was quite an impressive airport.
Info: After you’ve checked in, passing thru immigration at KLIA2 International Departure, which you would not have any liquids, the cheapest mineral water is at WSmith (RM 2.40 for 600ml). There’s a water dispenser at the toilet near Hong Leong bank.  It’s at the far end, near McD. After the last security check-point before entering departure gate, there’s a water dispenser in front of the toilet.
We reached around 1.00am, and I’d booked 2 rooms at Ibis Beijing Capital Airport, and thank goodness, everyone had some good rest before the tour started the next morning at 10.00am, meeting at the KFC, Beijing Airport T2. Ibis gave us a lift using their van, which is free for guests (7.00am – 12.00am). Since we arrived after midnight, it was RMB 200.00 per van, or RMB 50.00 per person.
Another couple who arrived from Malaysia, paid only RMB 40 for a taxi from airport to Ibis. I wasn’t ready to risk getting everyone lost though.
So the tour started without much fuss. I booked the tour on Groupon at RM 88.00 for 2 pax. It’s those tours heavily subsidized by the Chinese Government to attract overseas Chinese to travel in China (mostly Singapore and Malaysia). It turned out to be quite a great deal. There were like 36 pax in our group.
All pleasant people.
That’s the best part of joining a tour, when you meet nice and considerate people.
The first day turned out to be quite daunting (for our legs), but was also most meaningful. Tiananmen and Forbidden City was magnificent. If Beijing’s the eternal capital of China, then Tiananmen Square, which is connected en-route to the Forbidden City is the center of Beijing.

The very place where most of the good things, and a few not so good ones happened

Side view

And the amount of people

Not refurbished room of 慈禧

The back door of Forbidden City

Most of our legs gave way at the end of the day.
For a moment, I slept during the Kungfu Panda show that evening

Day 2 was equally cool. We toured 居庸关 of the Great Wall, which is the nearest from Beijing City (some 80 km away).

The last line of defense of Beijing


I have got no doubt that every descendent of Chinese civilization would be proud when we witness the engineering and structural brilliance our ancestors had. Of course, some of these mega projects took its toll on the very country they had to leave behind.

If you think the first 2 days was tiring, the third day was mentally tiring. The silk factory was in fact, so mentally challenging and worthless, that I'd rather hike the Great Wall the entire day snapping photos.

For the last 3 days, we 'concentrated' mostly on shopping: pearl shop, silk shop, chinese medicine, jade shop... All are government directives that are included in the compulsory tour.

The (pitiful) few places we went were the Summer Palace 慈禧's Summer Palace, Panda Zoo, Olympic Village and the emperor's 天坛。

Was quite an impressive building

It felt like the Nou Camp of Barcelona FC


Lazy panda

We were also 'dumped' at 王府井, the famous shopping street in Beijing.

No one dared to try the 冰糖葫芦

Nor the scorpions or fellow insects

 夜游长安街 was basically sitting on the bus

Like our previous family trip to Chengdu, we extended a day in Beijing to explore the city ourselves. And quite likely so, as when you follow tour, you don't go down to the society, walking in the streets, talking to the genuine local population. And we tasted the best Peking Duck at Peking Hotel's restaurant!!! 

I liked it very much!

A simple dinner costing on around RMB 350

The BIG discount of RMB 98 rather than RMB 298 for one whole duck

And we still couldn't believe our luck!

Another famous food is call the 狗不理包子,one of 慈禧's favourite snack. Slightly overrated though. I suppose the emperor's snack must be different than what we had.

The history

My neighborhood has better ones

But it's worth a try at 王府井.

We took the 2am flight back to Malaysia on Day 6. Everyone was exhausted, but very happy.

I am just so glad to have such a wonderful and close-knitted family.

And funny too

Not sure when's the next family trip?


I am catching the Midnight flight to London next Thursday. Weird as it sounds, I don't feel excited at all. Some call it travel-too-much syndrome, which is quite scary when you think about it.

But after some logical thoughts, I realize that it's because I still have tonnes of work, datelines, and tasks to complete, so much so, that I've got no time to feel excited, or to think about the trip. 

I'll most probably feel the excitement before I board the A380?

Life's a journey, why so serious?