Going to Beijing – How many days??

lovebjMy sisters and mom just left from their vacation two weeks ago and life is back to normal.  Hahahaha!  If you want my sister’s account of her travels in the city, check her commentary on her blog site.  As for myself, I did all that I can do in Beijing on my first year here with Marco.

So.. before we take into consideration as to how many days.. we must consider what kind of trip would you like to have.   Do you want an amazing race adventure or a light and easy trip?   When you’ve decided if you want to kill or relax yourself, decide how many days would you like to stay in the city.  3, 4 or 5 days?

In any case, here’s a 3 day itinerary for you.  When I say 3 days, that’s 3 whole days so make the necessary adjustments.

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Google Music

googleWhile biding my time before meeting up with Marco and Richard for the Carrefour Spring Wine Fair, I had dinner with Tita Beth and China Lei at their apartment.  They had CNN on TV and Susan Boyle was one of the headliners for wowing the crowd with her amazing rendition of Les Miserables’ “I Dreamed A Dream”.  I watched the video online and it made me cry in tears.  It was really amazing!  I just hope she has another song up her sleeve that will be as equally or much better than her audition piece.

Another headline on CNN was music piracy.  In China, where everything can be copied and intellectual property rights are difficult to protect, Google China in cooperation with major music labels offer free downloads on Google.  Their aim is to beat Baidu on it’s huge share of the internet search engine market.

When I found out about it, I tried it this afternoon downloading my favorite Chinese and English songs.  They don’t have a very wide selection as yet but they’re aiming for 1 million songs before the year ends.  The search engine is in Chinese but it’s easy to navigate even though you’re not a Chinese reader.

Here’s how to use Google Music:

  • Go to http://www.google.cn
  • Click the “音乐” icon.  That’s the 5th one from the left.   Then, it will open a new window
  • On the search field, type your favorite artist.

Happy Music Downloads!  It’s Free and Legal!

Shanghai – Financial Capital of China

Shanghai is two hours away from Beijing by plane.  If you are in need of a getaway from Beijing and do not want to rusticate in the countryside, this place is the best for you.  Shanghai is considered as the financial capital of China and one of the municipalities of the country.  It’s a modern and cosmopolitan city with tons of skyscraper and highways.

There are several ways to reach this city, you can plane or train it from Beijing.  If you plan to fly, you have two airports to choose from: Hongqiao and Pudong.  These two airports are located at the opposite sides of the city.  Hongqiao is mainly domestic and is located west of the city.  Pudong airport which has two terminals serves mostly the international riding public is located east of the city.   To train it, there are two stations : Shanghai Main and Shanghai South.  To check the train schedule and prices, browse through my train guide here.  For flight information, you can try http://www.ctrip.com or http://www.elong.com.

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Shanghai Starbucks Tumblers

My sisters came to visit me in Beijing but since they took the budget flight to Shanghai, I had to pick them up there.  As usual, I have to stop by a Starbucks shop to purchase for my favorite collectors.  There are several Starbucks in Shanghai notably in famous tourist spots like Xintiandi, Yuyuan and Nanjing Road.  They still don’t have a store at the new Terminal 2 airport of Shanghai Pudong.

Unlike Beijing tumblers, Shanghai have box sets perfect for gifts.  I was lucky enough to purchase a Shanghai box set and a Zhejiang box set.  Each box set costs RMB 388 (Ouch!).   What I like about it is, some of the tumbler designs are transparent and can only be purchased in a set.  The Shanghai box set is composed of Shanghai, Xintiandi and Yuyuan.  The Zhejiang box set is composed of Ningbo, Shaoxing and Hangzhou.  Check out the pictures of these sets.

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Hooters (美国猫头鹰餐厅)

ka1Hooters in the US is known for their beautiful, well-endowed servers.  When Hooters opened in Beijing in 2007, foreigners particularly men flocked the restaurant hoping to be served by these beautiful, well-endowed servers.   However, they were disappointed as Asians are not known to be blessed with big breasts.  Reviews at that time were focused on their servers and not their food.

In any case, I only got the chance to visit this place last month after church.  It wasn’t full as it’s a Sunday and to make up for their lack in bust size, they perform a 30 second dance routine almost every half an hour.  Service was great and the place is filled with flat screen TV tuned in to different sports channel.

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I Won A Bowling Ball!!!

p3070050Bowling is a sport where I’m neither good nor bad.  My current average is 105.  My goal for this year is to average at 120.  Seems reachable right?  There are several bowling alleys in Beijing.  The most famous is Gongti 100 in Gongti Xi Lu.  The International Friendship Bowling League hold their tournament there every Tuesday night at 730pm.  Each game at this alley cost RMB 25 before 5pm and RMB 30 after 5pm.  Smoking and drinking are allowed.  If you buy their prepaid card worth RMB 5000, each game before 5pm is RMB 15 and after 5pm is RMB 18.

Near Dongzhimen, East Gate Apartments has a bowling alley at the basement of their mall.   Each game cost RMB 15 before 5pm and RMB 20 after 5pm.  The alley closes at 12mn so you better time yourself well.  They have fewer lanes and columns in between lanes are a bit distracting.  No smoking or drinking allowed.  Beware of flying balls as some players literally throw their balls and not towards the pins but it slip off their fingers when they’re about to throw it.  If you get a prepaid card worth RMB 3600, each game before 5pm will cost RMB 3 and after 5pm will be RMB 6.  In between bowling tournament, this is where we practice to reduce cost.

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International Friendship Bowling League

I officially confer myself as a bowling fanatic.  This is just a step below from the bowling addicts.  If you read through my New Year’s resolution, #2 on my list is to get an average of 120 in bowling.  Currently after almost a 100 games since Dec. 28, my average score is a 102. I hope I can reach my goal towards the end of the year or better.  In any case, I usually play 5 games a week on average and I even bought a prepaid card to lower the cost of each game.  My bowling addict friends play at least 10 games a week and not just once but sometimes 3 times a week.

In any case, to all bowling fans in Beijing, you are cordially welcome to join as a group of 4 to 6 people in the International Friendship Bowling League.  This League plays every Tuesday starting 730pm.  The players are composed of expats from different countries and different sectors of society.  We have players who work for the different embassies, hotels, news groups and businesses.  It’s fun and a good place to network!

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