Beijing Diary – Trip to the Mystical Land

Beijing Diary – Trip to the Mystical Land

When an opportunity came my way for a short business trip to China, I did not lose a moment to say “YES” I will travel. I wanted to explore this mystical land and experience for myself what China has in store for me especially after hearing not so good reviews about this country, from my friends.

This trip did shatter lot of myths and perceptions about this great country. The Chinese are not so friendly with Indians; are very reserved ; they cannot speak English and you will have to use sign language; the cuisine is unpalatable so carry some food stuff from India if you don’t wish to starve etc etc

Beijing International Airport

My first touch point was the Immigration folks at the Beijing Airport. I could not believe my eyes when I cleared the immigration process in just 10 seconds flat with no questions asked !! This is unbelievable given the “not so friendly” status with our neighbor. Compared to this, the US and UK immigration folks ask lot of questions especially when they know I am not going to stay back in their country for long and have come on an official trip. The Beijing airport almost resembled 2 or 3 huge football stadia in size. I had never seen such a massive airport before although there are claims from most other airports being the largest etc. In comparison the Hong Kong airport looked like a miniature self (I had taken my flight to Beijing via Hong Kong).

The real test began when I took a cab from the airport to the Hotel, a distance of about 40 kms. The
cabbie knew no English and I had a tough time communicating to him about the fare details and the location to be dropped, He repeatedly said “NO” to whatever question I asked him. Maybe he knew only Yes and No from the English lexicon. FortunatelyI had carried the directions to the Hotel in Chinese which he could not decipher so easily. After some struggle, we reached the Hotel and his “NO” was indeed a “YES” to all my questions. I wanted a receipt and wanted to know if he knew the place where we were going. I wish the cabbies were given a crash course on basic English to deal with foreigners given that tourism is a booming industry in China especially at Beijing.

Suite at Fairmont Hotel

The Fairmont Hotel where I stayed was just fabulous and the most luxurious property I have ever come across. Every facility within the room was automated with no need for any manual intervention, I got a very friendly reception but soon I hit a roadblock as I opened my laptop to update my status on Facebook and wanted to send some personal mails using Gmail….. it was not working at all. I rushed to the Reception area and the friendly folks could not keep their smile and anguish , both under control…..Sir, but these social media sites are banned in China, he said, and I do not know why our Government has banned but we really apologize for the inconvenience. I was amazed and was wondering how the Chinese folks must be feeling after being deprived of these popular social sites.

Towering skyscrapers of Beijing

Although a Communist country I never felt I was deprived of any capitalistic pleasures at Beijing. It was almost like any American mega city in terms of infrastructure. In Bangalore we see every signboard to have the name inscribed in the local language besides the English name but here every foreign brand had no special Chinese appendage….only English. However I did face some challenge in communicating with the sales girls, since most of them could not speak in English although they made every effort to be understood. Also remember to bargain hard when you deal with street side vendors. If you can get 3 scarves for RMB 100, you can also get 12 for the same price and I paid a heavy price for not knowing the bargaining skills. The local currency is Chinese Yuan or RMB and 10 Indian Rupees = 1 RMB. Even if you convert for every transaction, you will find most of the services or goods cheaper in China. I had a good Chinese foot and back massage at one of the shopping malls. It was very relaxing and the masseurs kept me busy with lot of questions about India.

Intricate Jade carving of a Ship

My real and actual interaction with my neighbors happened at the workshop, which I was supposed to deliver. It’s true that they take time to open up but after they reach some comfort level they are extremely friendly folks and love to enliven the environment. I asked some of them about their perception about India and the Indians. In jest, I was told that in their “Know the Culture” session conducted on India, they were educated about the Indian Stretchable Time or our penchant to be not so punctual. The famous Indian head nod wherein a shake from left to right, that could mean “No”, is in fact a “Yes” and so on. But they have huge respect for Indians who are assumed to be smart; they love our Bollywood movies (3 Idiots was apparently a huge hit in China) and ofcourse our cuisine. They felt Modi was a very strong leader India and were worried he could be a threat to friendly relations with China especially with respect to the border related issues. They were well informed on what’s happening in Indian politics….the elections and about Mrs Modi being denied her right to be the first lady especially since they adore their First Lady – Mrs XI. I told them about an incident that happened during Chairman Xi’s visit to India when a Doordarshan news reporter goofed up with his name and said XI as in Roman 11. They could not hide their laughter.

Okra dish at the Restaurant

My Chinese friends took me to a local restaurant for dinner. I was apprehensive about the cuisine but they took care of my dietary needs. I loved the Vegetarian dishes (Okra item); the seafood (prawns and crab meat) and the poultry based dishes were delectable indeed, which were washed down with Chinese Rice Wine. The Chinese have to say “Cheers” every 15 minutes with a loud laughter. I really enjoyed the evening and I must say one more myth was busted …. about their cuisine. The people at the Restaurant were very friendly and service was real quick. There is no tipping culture in China but if you hand over a 10 Yuan note the serving staff will be more than happy.

The next day I planned a trip with my Irish colleague to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Both were located about 5 kms from the Hotel but it took us 30 minutes

Tiananmen Square

to reach there due to heavy traffic. Beijing is known for its heavy traffic and even during non peak hours, the traffic is still bad. It was freezing cold even at 2pm in the afternoon and the sky was murky with heavy smog. The pollution level at Beijing is perhaps the highest in China. We made a quick dash from the Square to the Forbidden City, which is a real huge place. It normally takes about 2 to 3 hours to cover the entire place but I planned to spend just an hour since we had also planned to visit the Temple of Heaven thereafter. I have

Forbidden City

nothing much to describe about the Forbidden City except that it is really really huge. The Temple of Heaven had closed down by the time we reached there at 4pm. We were allowed to see the gardens adjoining the Temple. The journey using sub way was very interesting. The ticket price is subsidized by the Government and it’s the cheapest form of transport at Beijing, I did not see many public buses but they do have 3 wheeled cabs just like our autos, which are less polluting. You need to bargain with these auto drivers and most of them do not understand English except for the numbers. Every sign on the roadside, on the sub way or at tourist sites, is mentioned in English and hence I had absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. The staff and even the guards at these tourist sites understand English and are always available to guide if you are having any difficulty.

Next day, I set out for the Great Wall of China on the Badaling side. An English speaking guide

Great Wall of China

accompanied me during the trip, who was well informed about India and Indian politics. Since I had a flight to catch in the afternoon, I planned for this trip very early in the morning. I reached the site at 8am when there were hardly any tourists. In China, I could hardly find an Indian tourist or even Western tourists except for those local to China or the Japanese and Koreans. Maybe this was not the right season for other tourists. When handed over the camera to shoot pictures, they are more than happy to help until the best snap is shot, while the ladies in the background keep encouraging them amidst giggles. This was my experience throughout my journey in China. The steps to the Great Wall are steep and it really saps your energy, while reaching the top. Once at the top you feel as if you are on top of the world. Avoid shopping in the vicinity as they charge really exorbitantly for their goods. After climbing for about 1 hour I started to descend which is much more tougher. One of the funny things I observed in China is that, shopping has to be included in the tour package else it is very expensive without one. It does not matter whether one shops or not but they make it a point to stop at atleast 2 shopping plazas owned by the Government. I was taken to a Jade factory where they make exquisite material from this rare stone. I had no intention of buying anything here but was all attentive to the guide at the store, who explained the entire process to me very meticulously. I finally had to stop and request the driver to take me to the Airport as I was getting delayed.

Author at the Great Wall of China

It was time for me to say Goodbye to China, a country that was shrouded in mystery. Lot of myths and perceptions were busted thanks to this short trip, about the people, their attitude towards Indians, the food etc. Our culture is so similar i.e. we are family oriented people yet we differ on one thing….our love for our language, You will rarely find 2 Chinese converse in English although they may know the language, In India it has become a fashion of sorts to speak only English while ignoring our local language or even our mother tongue. English is now taught even at Primary school level in China but seems they do not speak this language at home unlike us Indians. Also they are very proud of their country; keep their city clean ; they have excellent traffic sense. Although it is the most populous country in the world I rarely saw a large crowd except at tourist spots. They also have 2 and 3 wheelers but rarely crowd the city roads and make a mess out of the traffic. The infrastructure is something, I was really bowled over…be it the roads, the flyovers, the sub way system. If you close your eyes and land at Beijing city directly, you may think you are in Chicago except for few Chinese signs along the roadside. The Beijing skyline is just awesome. The office and residence buildings stand next to each other. Since I visited the city in autumn I could not gauge the greenery but I could see lot of trees and vegetation within the city limits.

I was hoping that one day we work together as good and friendly neighbors. There will be no power in the world that could beat the might of these 2 giants together. With this thought I took my flight back home to India via Hong Kong. I must visit this great country once again, to explore more of this mystical land.

To view more snaps please click on this Link . Due to heavy smog, on all the days I was present at Beijing, the quality of the snaps is not good.

The article “On Top of the World” was published in  Deccan Herald dated 11th Sept 2015 (Bengaluru edition)

354 thoughts on “Beijing Diary – Trip to the Mystical Land”

  1. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  2. you’re in reality a just right webmaster. The web site loading velocity is amazing. It sort of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a great activity in this subject!

  3. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  4. What i don’t realize is in fact how you’re no longer really a lot more smartly-appreciated than you may be now. You’re so intelligent. You already know thus considerably in terms of this matter, produced me for my part imagine it from numerous numerous angles. Its like men and women are not involved except it’s one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. Always take care of it up!

  5. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  6. Someone essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I’d state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and thus far? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular submit amazing. Fantastic process!

  7. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

  8. Hello very cool website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally¡KI’m happy to find a lot of helpful info here in the post, we’d like develop extra techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  9. This message is posted here using XRumer + XEvil 4.0

    XEvil 4.0 is a revolutionary application that can bypass almost any anti-botnet protection.
    Captcha Recognition Google (ReCaptcha-1, ReCaptcha-2), Facebook, BING, Hotmail, Yahoo,
    Yandex, VKontakte, Captcha Com – and over 8.4 million other types!

    You read this – it means it works! 😉
    Details on the official website of XEvil.Net, there is a free demo version.

    Check YouTube video “XEvil ReCaptcha2”

  10. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  11. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  12. I needed to send you that very little remark just to say thanks a lot over again for these superb thoughts you’ve featured here. It was quite strangely generous of you to convey openly just what a lot of folks could have sold as an e book to help with making some bucks for their own end, primarily since you could have tried it if you wanted. Those tricks additionally served as the easy way to realize that other individuals have the identical zeal just as mine to realize a whole lot more with respect to this issue. I am certain there are lots of more pleasurable times ahead for those who scan through your site.

  13. I simply want to mention I am new to blogging and site-building and actually liked you’re web-site. Most likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You definitely come with perfect article content. Thank you for sharing with us your website.

  14. May I simply just say what a comfort to find someone that actually knows
    what they’re talking about on the net. You definitely
    know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people have to check this out and understand this
    side of the story. I was surprised you are not more popular given that you most
    certainly have the gift.

  15. This message is posted here using XRumer + XEvil 4.0
    XEvil 4.0 is a revolutionary application that can bypass almost any anti-botnet protection.
    Captcha Recognition Google (ReCaptcha-1, ReCaptcha-2), Facebook, Yandex, VKontakte, Captcha Com and over 8.4 million other types!
    You read this – it means it works! 😉
    Details on the official website of XEvil.Net, there is a free demo version.

  16. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing.

    The clearness for your put up is simply cool and i can assume you’re a
    professional on this subject. Fine along with your permission allow me to take hold of your RSS feed to stay up to date
    with imminent post. Thank you one million and please keep up the rewarding work.

  17. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto
    a colleague who was conducting a little research on this.

    And he in fact bought me dinner simply because
    I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about
    this matter here on your web page.

  18. Either way, with craft and hobby outlets you’ll not less than find the fundamentals
    to get you started, and you will discover that attributable to the fact that it’s
    a specialty retailer, you can find some cheaper
    prices on lots of the products you buy at these retail areas.

  19. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks
    for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  20. Go by different jewellery units with latest designs, search for the sets that fits your garments in all of the events.
    Compare the prices in different on-line stores earlier than making a purchase.
    This makes you get an concept about trends and price variations within the

  21. All of the units by Jawbone and Fitbit will aid you accomplish these targets.
    I’m a fan of the unique Jawbone UP as a result of it is small, unobtrusive, and I haven’t got to consider
    it. That stated, I like the Fitbit Force because when I’m actually within the
    mood to observe what I’m doing, all the info I need is true
    on my wrist.

  22. I suppose you must weigh the issue for yourself. On the opposite hand, with anything but earrings, you can at all
    times use buttons (my favorite anyway, especially with the
    tassels – I just love the tassels!).

  23. Jewellery is something that will carry a priceless smile on the
    face of your spouse, girlfriend and friend. These days, handmade silver jewelry may be very a lot in style and
    females want wearing sterling silver pendants and turquoise silver earrings that
    goes with their dress. Read on this article to know more about silver jewellery and how one can get them at the most effective charges for the girl you love.

  24. Hello there, I do believe your website could
    be having browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your web site in Safari,
    it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues.
    I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful website!

  25. Hiya! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to
    resolve this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share.

  26. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks|

  27. Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.|

  28. Very good blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused .. Any ideas? Many thanks!|

  29. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!|

  30. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your website. It appears like some of the text in your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before. Appreciate it|

  31. Howdy, I do believe your web site may be having browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, wonderful site!|

  32. Hi there, I discovered your blog via Google at the same
    time as searching for a related topic, your website got
    here up, it seems to be great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, just was aware of your weblog via Google,
    and found that it is truly informative. I am going to watch out
    for brussels. I’ll be grateful should you continue this
    in future. A lot of other folks can be benefited out of your
    writing. Cheers!

  33. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I
    do believe that you ought to write more on this topic, it
    may not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t talk about these issues.

    To the next! Many thanks!!

  34. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s really informative. I am gonna watch
    out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Many people will be benefited from your writing.

  35. Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  36. I am really inspired together with your writing talents
    and also with the format in your blog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it your self?
    Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it’s uncommon to see
    a nice weblog like this one these days..

  37. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m
    inspired! Very helpful info specifically
    the final part 🙂 I handle such information much.
    I was seeking this certain information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  38. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. This is a
    really smartly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back
    to read extra of your useful information. Thank you
    for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  39. May I just say what a comfort to discover somebody
    who actually understands what they’re talking about over the internet.
    You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

    A lot more people need to read this and understand this side of the story.
    I can’t believe you are not more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.

  40. you are in reality a excellent webmaster. The website loading pace is
    incredible. It kind of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a excellent job on this topic!

  41. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the long run and it’s time to be happy.
    I’ve read this post and if I may I desire to
    recommend you some attention-grabbing issues or suggestions.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.

    I wish to learn more issues about it!

  42. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your site?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful
    lot of text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space
    it out better?

  43. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if
    it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  44. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.

    Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for
    this information for my mission.

  45. Someone essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I might
    state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now?
    I amazed with the research you made to create this particular
    publish amazing. Great activity!

  46. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping
    it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help reduce content from being ripped off?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

  47. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this brilliant blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my
    Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and
    will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  48. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this information to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thank you
    for sharing!

  49. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently

  50. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses?
    If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  51. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your
    blog. You have some really great articles and I think I would
    be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some content
    for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail
    if interested. Regards!

  52. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you can be a great
    author. I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will eventually come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you continue
    your great work, have a nice afternoon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.