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Trip to Beijing and the Great Wall

Last week I probably did my last trip during my time here in China. After being to Shanghai during Golden Week and visiting one of the holy mountains of China, Taishan, I definitely wanted to see the capital of China – Beijing.
Before the trip started my good friend Aubry came to Qingdao two days in advance and I had time to show him Qingdao (which has been my home for the past 5 months). I showed him around in our beautiful old part of the city, as well as our nice beaches.

beijing jingshan park
beijing jingshan park

On Thursday our trip to Beijing could finally start. We decided to stay in a hostel called Sanlitun Youth Hostel, which I can really recommend to you, if you want to stay in Beijing for a few days or even a while. It has cheap prices, a warm atmosphere, clean rooms and even offers some nice food – I can definitely recommend you the big Swiss breakfast.. yummy! Besides that, you have a young, open minded and very international audience that we liked to hang out with.

winter great wall
winter great wall

The next day we took a trip to the Great Wall which I have really been looking forward to. It was a great experience to walk up all the way on our own and enjoy the landscape. Also the wall itself was quite impressive. At the end of our walk on the wall we found a part which has not been restored – this is where you can have the nicest of all views!

The following day we started exploring the city a bit more. We visited some of the more famous sights of the city as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A personal tip here is to go to the Jing Shan Park near the Forbidden City. It is not very much crowded and is a really nice area. If you go up the little hill inside the park you have a great view above the Forbidden city and also the city in general.

eating a Scorpion at the Night Market
Stephan eating a Scorpion at the Night Market

After we explored much more of the city area, we decided to find ourselves a nice place to eat. We found out about Sanlitun village which is a big complex with lots of restaurants and shopping. The place you should not miss if you like some Mexican food is the Cantina Agave. Atmosphere and food there are top notch. Near Sanlitun village is also huge bar street where we had some drinks in various bars.

All in all it has been a nice experience and Beijing is a city that is worth a visit. We had a decent time and I guess we have really been lucky with the weather, as it was sunny all day and there was literally no smog at all. Beijing is a bit more Chinese than Shanghai in a way but is also just as lively. Nothing more to say than – bye bye, Beijing!

 

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Zhuhai Meets Chengdu at the Sichuan Opera House

Chinese opera is a popular form of drama and musical theatre in China with roots going back to as far as the third century CE. There are numerous regional branches of Chinese opera, of which the Sichuanese opera is one of the most famous types. Regionally Chengdu remains to be the main home of Sichuanese opera. Being right in the middle of an Ancient Chinese art source, we just could not miss the opportunity to see a play.

Source: http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/146S2779S12560.html

Luckily, on the same weekend when Chengdu office branch organized this activity for the interns our dear fellow colleagues from the Zhuhai office were in town too and joined us. We met at the Lazy Bones Hostel (highly recommended!), where our two office branches met for the first time and had a very nice dinner together after introducing ourselves.

Chengdu Interns meeting Zhuhai Interns for the first time!

All of us already heard of Chinese opera before, some having saw it on TV, but to actually be in the theatre in person was a lot more exciting. A wide variety of artistic talents were presented by the opera troupe, from historical drama and love stories to comedy and acrobatics. Some of us really enjoyed the puppet play, though the shadow play was also very interesting, especially when it spit fire.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuanese_opera

But still, the most famous and exciting stunt is the face-changing. Fortunately, our event-organizer Chris got us seats in the very front rows. Even though we still couldn’t figure out the secret of this old traditional performance, it made it all the more exciting.

Face Changing: Sichuan Opera's Greatest Secret

Of course we could not call it a night yet and went out for couple drinks after the show. After the traditional Ancient Chinese opera we went straight to Shamrock, Chengdu’s local expat watering hole, which gave the night the perfect touch and culture balance.

InternChina ending the night at the Shamrock, a local expat bar

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InternChina Trip to Beijing – Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of my blog about our trip to Beijing during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday.
After having a look at the Temple of Heaven we went back to the hostel. Our feet were hurting and we were all pretty exhausted, so we split up the group, some went to eat some Chinese food, the others took a shower and had some food at the hostel.

IC group in front of the Temple of Heaven
                                                             

Later on we all met again for some drinks on a bar street close to our hostel. We had such a great night! We found a little garage bar where drinks weren’t that expensive and did some pre-drinking. After lots of ‘Ganbeis’ (Chinese word for “bottoms up”) we went to a ‘club-house’, meaning there was actually a club on every floor and also on the roof. We all had a great time!

Partying on the bar street in Beijing

 

The next morning we also got up at 8 am to go to the Forbidden City. We were all still pretty tired of course, but we were looking forward to see the palace located in the center of Beijing. It was crazy how big it was and it took us about three hours to walk through. But it was definitely worth it, it is such an impressive complex!

IC group in front of the Forbidden City

Then we went on a little hill located right next to the Forbidden City to get a view from the top. Of course you couldn’t only see the Forbidden City, but also parts of Beijing, like the Zhonghai Lake.

View of the Forbidden City from above
                                                                                 

Unfortunately after the Forbidden City our trip was over and we had to get all our stuff to catch our train back to Qingdao. We had a great time in Beijing, it’s such an amazing city!

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InternChina Trip to Beijing – Part 1

Last week was another holiday in China, the Dragon Boat Festival. Therefore we all had Monday to Wednesday off, meaning the perfect opportunity to organize an InternChina trip to Beijing.Monday morning at 6 o’clock we all arrived at Qingdao train station. Sadly, we didn’t think about the long lines that might be at the counter for picking up the train tickets, we tried everything but the lines were just way too long that we actually missed our train… oops! Little reminder for everybody who is travelling in China, be there at least one hour before and if you need to pick up your tickets… show up two hours in advance or go there one day before to pick them up!
Well, in the end we had to get new tickets, gladly we could refund the old ones and so we could finally go on our trip at 4 pm. We made the best out of the waiting time and had a great sight-seeing day in Qingdao, we had a delicious lunch and visited Old Town.

Christian Church in Qingdao

We finally arrived at 10:30 pm in our hostel, all very exhausted but glad to finally be in Beijing. For the next day we planned on going to the Great Wall of China. The part of the Great Wall we visited was located about 70km north of Beijing so it took us about 1.5 hours to get there. Our hostel organized the trip so a bus picked us up in front of the hostel and drove us to a very nice – gladly not so crowded – spot at the wall. We climbed out of the bus and found ourselves in a really beautiful place. Lots of little mountains with trees and on the top you could see, very tiny and quite far away, the Great Wall. A place which all of us have just seen on television, therefore it was really exciting to finally get to walk on it.

The Great Wall

Our tour guide explained to us that we could either walk or take the cable cars to get to the top. We split the group and some of us walked, which took about 15 minutes, the others went by cable cars, which took about 5 minutes.   Finally up on the wall it was really impressive to walk on a sight that was already built in the 7th century BC. Of course the part we walked on was renovated for the tourists but we could get a look at the old part as well.

Finally we arrived at the top

We were walking for about three hours on the wall which was quite exhausting. But we were lucky, the sun was shining and it was a great day. After our hike, we had good Chinese food together at the bottom of the sight and then we went back to our hostel.

                                                                     Deserved lunch with some Tsingtao beers

When we arrived back at the hostel we were all pretty exhausted but there was no time to relax, we wanted to see as much as possible from Beijing. So we just refreshed ourselves real fast and went to the Temple of Heaven. It’s located in a huge park where many Chinese people come together in the evenings to play cards, sing and dance.

                                                                              Image source: globeimages.com

Tune in on Monday for Part 2 of our Beijing Trip!

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Korean BBQ Dinner and Students’ Round table

I cannot believe how fast time flies by when you are having fun. It has already been 4 weeks since I first came to Qingdao. During these 3 weeks, I have met new people and visited many interesting places around the city. Intern China organizes events every week and it is through these events that I have met new people. Last Thursday, Intern China organized a Korean BBQ dinner and 20 people arrived, which, was great! We ordered a lot of food (beef, pork, vegetables and Korean pancakes) and drinks (Soju and Qingdao beer). We all had a good time and there was even a drinking competition!After the dinner, we all decided to go to KTV (karaoke) since the night was still young and we all ended up having an awesome time! We got a big karaoke room with a big screen and everyone sang. The atmosphere was good and I’m sure everyone had an awesome time.

On Saturday, there was a traditional event called Students’ Round Table where all interns and locals come together and hang out. The meeting point for this event was in a hostel in the old town. There were many interns as well as Chinese people. We could drink as much cocktails as we wanted for only 50RMB for girls, 80RMB for guys and 50RMB if you come as a couple. In conclusion, we all had a great time and it was an awesome week! This coming weekend, there will be a party in our apartment and kung-fu class!!!!!!