A Travellerspoint blog

Beijing Marathon

Not just a running event!

sunny 24 °C

It is Monday morning the sun is shining, it is 24 outside and most importantly I’m off work today it is a national holiday!

What a week! The social expectations in Beijing are higher then any expectations that I have (and I’ve been told that in general I have extremely high expectations!). Anyway I had dinner with my colleagues on Tuesday (it was my one month anniversary in Beijing!) That was super yummy; the smoked deep fried duck is amazing! Wednesday was spicy Sichuan with friends then drinks… and then a repeat but with Taiwanese food and drinks and going out on gay night!

So this exhausted girl with only a few hours of sleep strung together last week headed to Qingdao.

My friend Marc (Dutch guy I met here) and I met at the train station and were whisked off to Qingdao at around 240 k / hr! Since we had both had a pretty punishing last few days we thought that we would just take it easy and sleep on the train as it is a 5.5 hour journey. Needless to say that didn’t last very long and we popped our bottle of bubbly (compliments of Moi) and indulged in some tasty snacks. We had a fun filled journey hanging out at the “bar” and mingling with the staff.

We arrived late to a very cold room, and my bed was incredibly hard – pretty much a piece of wood with a blanket on it. We headed out for a drink but were both exhausted so called it a night pretty quickly. Needless to say I had a horrible night of sleep and bruised back and hip from my bed. We agreed to check out and stay some where more comfortable. For as much as I like hostels, after freezing for weeks earlier this year in India/Nepal I think I’m ready for some more pampering :)

Saturday we walked around the entire day enjoying the city but it was quite cold and not the weather we expected. We went to this revolving restaurant on the 25th floor of this hotel for a drink in the afternoon and I can imagine when it is not foggy that the view is amazing. We decided to stay in the Vogue Hotel California (and yes they did play the song) and checked in there before dinner.

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(these are pics from Marc I need to upload mine still)

We were told that the New York bar was good but you had to get there early… we followed the instructions and arrive early to find the place empty. However the band showed up and started there sound check (and they sounded really good) so we decided to stay – the good news was they had an amazing burger on the menu so dinner was not a complete spoil. We had a delicious meal listen and danced (oh how we danced) to some great music and managed to be home around midnight. Not bad for a days work if you ask me.

Having slept exponentially better Saturday night I woke up ready to conquer our day – oh and to return a day early. Between the weather and nice offers in Beijing we decided to come back a day early, Qingdao is really a warm weather place. Yesterday morning we went to the Brewery and thankfully could take a self guided tour that was our sleep and still lots of fun. Then we sat on the beach and enjoyed watching all of the Chinese tourist/residents alike having fun on the first sunny weekend of the year.

We took the mid-day train back relaxed slept a bit and then finally arrived to the most massive taxi que I have ever seen. There were several hundreds of people in line but in almost no time we made it through the line and were speeding into the Beijing night. Marc and I parted ways both off for drinks with respective friends and another fun night was had in Beijing.

Today I’m going to lunch with a girlfriend and going to relax and soak up some sunshine. It is nice to have a day just to relax and recharge after my marathon week.

Posted by Hansnally 11:26 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

Mc Cycle

Supersized with a Big Mac!

sunny 7 °C

And what a cycle adventure I had! Though it wasn’t as impressive as cycling around the Angkor temples, or the picturesque whirl around Burger Park, nor was it the refreshing ride through the Swedish forest, or close to the charming city tour that Antwerp offers, it was cycling city style in Beijing. And that is something all on its own. I must admit I did miss my partner in crime because getting lost is what we are good at, and even better at always managing to get where we needed some times it seemed that we got there by our own merits other times pure serendipity that we made it where we should.

What I must admit first is that I was in search of a temple my colleague told me about, I was supposed to have to cycle down the road for a long time and then I would find it. Well I cycled down the same road, in the same direction for more the 1.5 hours finally deciding to make a right turn in search of some food (of the western sort that is).

After I had been cycling for more then two more hours on only a banana and juice I finally gave in and hit the McDonald’s! Oh a Big Mac and fries has never tasted so sweet – well at least since the last time I hadn’t had one for ages :) After my refuel I headed on and thankfully I finally had the idea that I was indeed going in the right direction and that the hotel that I wanted to go for a swim at was not too far off.

I managed to get to the hotel around 15:30 after cycling for about five hours. I relaxed in the sauna and jacuzzi, and then headed for the pool – major negative about this hotel is that they were not in the same location so I won’t be going back there. I swam some laps and then partook in a little more lounging and reading by the indoor pool, which I might add was pretty amazing with an overview from the 18th floor over Beijing. I decided to cycle home before it got too dark and just made it home around 19:00. Six hours of cycling in five degree weather wasn’t the fun that I thought it would be but the pool made up for it and I was feeling rather fit. See the pictures from my cycle adventure that I will post shortly.

I was starved when I got home – apparently Big Mac’s don’t last that long so I went across the road and with a little pointing and some sign language managed to pick up some noodles that we super yummy and just under a euro! I gobbled those down pretty quickly and did some research for the bachelorette party I’m trying to arrange for my dear best friend. Finally it was time for my disco nap as I promised my girlfriend I would accompany her to a white party here in the city.

Waking up is hard to do – especially when you hit the off button instead of the snooze and realize that you running late and still in your PJ’s! I almost called and cancelled and then realized that it had been ages since I’d been out dancing and really the only excuse I had was to go to bed early!

I got ready, very quickly, hopped a cab, and away I went. Not quite as charming as Cinderella but hey I did my best. It was well worth giving up my early night in and rushing to get ready. The club was impressive and the music was great – though they didn’t play my favorite of the moment lady gaga poker face, and my feet hurt yesterday from all the dancing!

Sunday was an early morning, thanks to more neighbors that like to drill on Sunday morning – not sure what it is about me and nosey neighbors! So I got up early cleaned my apartment and then was off to brunch with the girls (I finally found a French dip! It has only taken several years and a few continents besides N.America but I did it and it was amazing – also managed to find the best cesar salad outside of CA at the same spot so needless to say I will be a frequent customer)! Then it was onto shopping, and a mani and neck massage (just under 6 euros for both!) it was a great day and made me realize one again how wonderful girlfriends are wherever they are on this planet! It was just a really nice relaxing day – and I ended it by catching up with my old friend Mel. Thanks girls!

Well a month in Beijing – wow time fly’s but yes I’m still enjoying the city, my work, and my new friends!

I'm working on plans for the weekend - we have Monday off and I'm trying to get away - the only difficulty is that you can only book train tickets 5 days in advance currently which means I can only do a one-way and book the return when I'm there and I don't want to get stuck some where because it will be super busy this weekend... we will see what happens with the next adventure! Thankfully I will have a travel buddy so no matter what it will be fun.

Posted by Hansnally 17:30 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

I've got wheels!

of the bicycle kind

sunny 5 °C

This past week was rather uneventful except I got wheels on Monday, in the form of a hand-me-down bicycle! My first experience cycling in being was pretty interesting because it was dark and I was carrying my laptop bag! I made it home Safe and sound only to find out that You Tube was down. It was down the entire week but I’m happy to say we have it back up today! When you only have 1 channel in English on the regular tube, You Tube is desperately missed. For more on why it was down you will have to Google it because I don’t have any access to that…

My colleagues and I went for spicy Szechwan dinner Tuesday night. Wednesday it was so cold in my apartment that I had to sleep in my socks (the government controls the heating and it was shut off on the 15th ) and when I pulled them off I saw sparks. Last night I had a yummy steak dinner a French/Danish (the owner poured everyone little glasses of his home made liquor and it was only on the way home that I remember this could cause blindness – don’t worry I can see fine today!) restaurant and we had a drink afterward – Amanda and I didn’t make it late because it was a very long work week.

Today I’m off on a cycle journey; guide book and camera in hand – hopefully I will have some good pictures to post tomorrow. Tonight there is a white part of some sorts – we will see if I’m up for it after my adventures. I might just take a swing past the sauna and spend the afternoon relaxing!

More tomorrow!

Posted by Hansnally 10:15 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

3 weeks in Beijing

aparently time goes faster here....

sunny 5 °C

Wow another week, it unbelievable how fast time goes here! This week was a busy one work wise as I was in a three day work (that was all day) and I still had to get my regular work finished… needless to say it was a long week.

The good news is that I still managed some fun. Tuesday I celebrated St. Patty’s Day with my colleagues, had a few pints of Guinness and still managed to be in bed at a reasonable hour, not too bad! Wednesday was pretty quite in the carpool though :)

Thursday my girl friend came around for dinner but I was too tired to cook so we ordered Domino’s it was very yummy!

Friday we went out for Yunnan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yunnan_cuisine) food and it was incredibly tasty (http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/dining/yunnan/has/out/ ). I didn’t know if I was up for Chinese food but this is more exotic then traditional Chinese food and I really enjoyed it. The bit hit at our table was pineapple rice but I think my favorite was the potato pancakes – yes I really must be a little Dutch :)

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Yesterday I planned to do nothing and after such a long week that is just what I did – I slept in, chilled out in my nothing box, took a nap… and then I found a Sake tasting! It was 16:50 when I found it started at 17:00…and I was still in my PJ’s. Nonetheless I slid in at 17:35 and was fortunate because it didn’t begin until 17:30 so I hardly missed anything. The presenter was very interesting and I learned quite a bit about Sake. Then came the fun part trying all the different Sake’s my favorite was Aiyu very good, (Dad try and order this next time you’re at Kazumi’s) and you must drink it slightly chilled.

Today we were suppose to do a girls brunch but that fell through a bit so a girlfriend and I had some lunch and then I walked around for a while enjoying the sunshine and picked up some more movies (Waltz with Bashir, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and The Bubble Buah, Ha) and a new book and I’m looking forward to all of them! Time to go enjoy!

Posted by Hansnally 18:35 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

Conquering the Great Wall

...or trying to find a non touristy part...

overcast 14 °C

This weekend started with a yummy dinner with my colleagues Friday. Well I should back up on Thursday our GM (who is Australian) celebrated his birthday and his wife planned a surprise lunch with BBQ and American/Australian fixings need less to say it was a real treat for me and the chocolate chip cookies were the icing on the cake! So since everyone knows I celebrate Friday eve this past week I really did it right. Anyway dinner Friday was at a really nice Chinese restaurant 106 no too far from my place and features Beijing Duck (smoked and then deep fried) not sure how healthy it was but it was delicious! There was a bit of confusion and instead of eggplant we were served sea slug (Dad I had to think of you!) it is interesting but I would like to keep the sea slugs in the sea instead of on my plate! Friday night was an early one because Saturday I was off to conquer that wall everyone talks about!

Through a local hostel my colleague and I booked a hike to the Great Wall and even though we didn’t pay in advance and showed up a bit on a whim Saturday morning we made it on the tour. It was about two ours from Beijing City and then about a 1.5 hour hike to the wall. In total we hiked about 3 hours (unfortunately not the 6 expected and the lunch that was included was not a pleasant experience). Low point of the day was lunch after waiting 45 minutes we were served only veggies and broth (left-over from the other Chinese tour group) and it was FREEZING cold in the room we had to eat it. Having said that the high point was walking on the Great Wall! It was pretty amazing to be walking some where I only dreamed of digging to when I was a kid  I will let the pictures speak for themselves, please note that this isn’t a great show of my photography skills – sorry! Hiking along the wall it hit me really hard how fortunate I am to be able to travel and experience such amazing places – I’m a very lucky girl!

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After the hike I had a little disco nap and then dinner at yummy western restaurant at the Village… perfect end to a nice day. It was another early night – I’m still behind on my sleep and I caught a cold on Thursday so I’m trying to get healthy!

Today I went to the Carrefour and it was even busier then Wall Mart! I have know idea how many people were there but I think at least the population of a large Dutch Village. Carrefour has loads of American products, ones that I have not seen in ages, it was all I could do to have the self control not to buy everything! Luckily, Hans brought me some Oreo’s and microwave popcorn back from Canada (but I didn’t get to enjoy the popcorn so I picked up some today) and some goldfish crackers and hot chocolate. I figured if I get one or two things every time I go by the time I go home I will have had my fix.

After shopping and chores I met up with a new friend Jen for a late lunch – supper yummy chips and guacamole and some chicken flautas. It was excellent and I’m looking forward to going back see pic for evidence! Jen had a work commitment so I walked around the Village an awesome shopping area in very trendy Sanlitun, I did get a mani/pedi which was a nice treat and my hands and feet look a million times better but I didn’t do any shopping because Sanlitun is more expensive the Antwerp – have to wait to go to the local places! Now it is time to wrap this up and watch a movie and relax the rest of evening – BTW just picked up Rachel Getting Married!

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OK I promise I have 5 more wall pics I will add tomorrow, I can only do one at a time and I’ve been at it for more then a hour!

Posted by Hansnally 18:49 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

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