Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Beijing, China 2015

*Caution : This is a long entry*

The winter just ended about two weeks earlier when we visited Beijing for the first time. It was supposed to already be Spring but the chilly air told us otherwise.

Our flight to Beijing was a tumultuous one. A 6 hours flight from KL to Beijing, was not really a long flight but considering we were constantly shaken by air turbulence, we really felt that it was indeed one of the longest journey ever.

We arrived at the airport safely, and find ourselves greeted by the super chilly air. With limited Mandarin and their limited English, we managed to ask for directions at the airport. We needed to locate another set of visitors that will be part of our tour. And as we met them we found out that the girls and another pair of couple had a worst flight journey than us. We thanked God for the safe journey of both groups.

While waiting for the other group to arrive. Didn't expect it to be so cold...brrrr...

We headed to the hotel and slept like a baby the first night.

It was actually my first time following a tour in my adult traveling years. My verdict? Never again!

All in all we visited Beijing for 8 days, 5 days with the tour and 3 days on our own.

Below are the places that we visited during the whole trip:

1. Tiananmen Square
2. Forbidden City (The Imperial Palace)
3. The Great Wall of China
4. Hutong Tours
5. Summer Palace
6. Temple of Heaven
7. The Beijing Olympic Stadium
8. Niujie Mosque
9. Wang Fu Jing market
10.Yuyuantan Park

The Tiananmen Square, including Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, one of China's prominent leader

The looming Forbidden City. I actually took time to re-study about Forbidden City before I came here. It was worth the study. This place was huge and full of history.
The courtyard of the Forbidden City

Admiring the beauty and the pain of building the Great Wall of China

Temple of Heaven
There were also some significant points I wanted to share about our trip. I will list them down in an order and share the summary of it.

MH 370

Credit : Google
A year before we flew in MH360 from KL to Beijing, a similar flight like ours was also heading to Beijing from KL. And that was when history was changed forever. That particular flight never made it to China and has seem to never be found until this day. It was a really tragic loss, not only to Malaysians but also to the Chinese people. Around the same time a year later, we visited China in another flight now renamed MH360. Knowing the resentment and feelings of the Chinese towards the incident, we tried our best to keep calm as we've heard rumours that Malaysians were not really welcomed. But we were glad that nothing really happened when we arrived, although we did get pointed at, and yelled at when riding the trishaw at the Hutong area.


We really experienced a strong air turbulence on our flight to Beijing. Not helping was the fact that the MH370's tragedy was still lingering in our minds. All of us pretended to be cool, when inside we were reciting zikr' and prayers for the whole 6 hours journey. None of us could actually sleep. We kept looking at the route map on the flight wishing that we will arrive soon. My eyes kept looking when our route showed that we were crossing the water near Vietnam and just wishing that we would not crash in the sea. Yes, that was what exactly I was praying for.


It lasted almost half an hour and scared my friends like crazy. My bag fell open in the van and somehow I was left alone in the van, picking up my stuff. When I finally finished, all my friends including the tour guide and the whole tour just disappeared. So being me and not getting panicked at the first instance, I made my way to Fu Jing market and simply took a stroll while looking for my tour group. I took the time to capture interesting things that I saw at the market and was devising a plan on how to get dinner if I actually didn't get reunited with the rest of the tour. I was quite confident I could survive on the basic Mandarin I learned on YouTube and get a taxi to at least go back to my hotel (didn't occur to me I could get kidnap, haha). But Alhamdullillah, as I was returning to the place where I started, I bumped into my teary eyed friends. Bless their hearts!

The night we were reunited after being separated

On the 5th night, while the rest of the tour prepared to leave for the airport, we also prepared ourselves to move to another hotel. What we didn't expect to happen was that our Mongolian driver would just abandoned us by the side of the road after dinner. We pleaded with our tour guide, to at least send us to the nearest train station but she convinced us that the train station was just a few minutes walk.

What was supposed to be a few minutes walk turned into a 25 minutes walk. One of the worst experience ever in my life. The weather was so cold, around 11-13 degrees celsius, we were struggling to carry our suitcases (we had to bring lots of warm clothes due to the weather). After a long and difficult walk, we finally arrived at the train station. But our nightmare, didn't end there. That was just the beginning.

The train station or lrt station were not equipped with any escalators or lifts. So we had to exchange about 5-6 train stations carrying our huge suitcases. I really believe I was going to break my spine with all the heavy lifting, because there were only long flights of stairs. When we finally made it to the station nearest to our hotel, there was no taxi around. Buses passed us by, none stopping in our way. We were so clueless, cold and worried.

Finally we met a few out of town girls who helped us to ask a local (using the local lady's GPS) to locate our hotel. And guess what, it was just across from where we were.

I forgot to mention earlier, a local lady in a red car offered to take us to our hotel. She said it will only be 30 minutes. I was cold and desperate and almost agreed to take the ride with the said lady but was stopped by my friend. Alhamdulillah, I am grateful I didn't go with the lady. I really could have been kidnapped because the hotel was just a 10 minutes walk from where we were. Lesson learned!


Out of all the not so nice and scary experiences I had in Beijing, there was this one incident that actually made me shed tears and really broke my heart.

We were visiting a masjid for our Asr' prayers and after taking photos of the beautiful architecture of the building, I stumbled upon a Muslim lady in front of the masjid. She greeted me with Salam and gave a toothless smile. I asked my friend to take a picture of us since it is rare to meet a Chinese Muslim lady in Beijing.

As I was approaching her, I could strongly smell that she had not bathed for days, (thanks to my experience of doing dock brief in my chambering months). My heart just broke and the moment I left her I broke into tears and wept uncontrollably. My heart felt for her. Here, I was complaining about my tour guide, the toilet and water system in China, this lady was too poor to probably have access to clean water.

That incident gave me a wake-up call and I promised myself, never to take anything for granted anymore and be grateful for every each and little blessings that I have been bestowed with.


This lady is one of kind. She probably is bored of bringing people to the same places daily, and have no patience whatever especially when we spent more than 5 minutes for photography, but she surely has lots of knowledge.

I enjoyed asking her about politics and the world economy of China, and the other international relations that China has with the world, political conspiracy theories and other political stuffs. She was more than happy to share this with me since she knows a lot. And surprisingly, it seems her information were quite accurate.

The wonderful people of our tour group

During half of the trip, the flowers finally bloom. Sakura was everywhere, pink, red and white. Subhanallah such an amazing sight! We enjoyed watching the flowers and just embraced the beautiful sights.

Here are some tips before you visit Beijing, or China

1. Find a good and reliable travel agent. Make sure all your needs are met. The agents can be a little disrespectful, so stand your ground.

2. Take the time to learn some basic Mandarin. I studied for weeks through Youtube, reading a book, asking a Chinese friend to correct my pronunciation. It helped me to bargain for shopping and also to speak to the locals, asking for directions.

3. Always have a Chinese-English dictionary with you. In case you have no clue how to pronounce the words, the least you can do is show the word to the locals.

4. If going with an agent, beware of them constantly changing the itineraries without consulting you. Do negotiate with them diplomatically as they can be quite harsh and rough.

5. If following a tour with the agents, be sure that they will bring you to their local government shops. If you feel like spending, do so, but if you don't want to, the choice is totally yours. Do not feel pressured or intimidated by the agent, to buy anything.

6. Please check the weather before you fly. It is really important to come prepared. Bring enough warm clothes for cold weathers and other necessities.

7. If traveling by public transport, do pay attention to your stop. Each station sounds similar, thus may create confusion.

8. Do if possible travel light if you are using the public transport. Bring sturdy walking shoes as there will be lots and lots of walking when visiting China.

9. Always know the name of the place that you are staying at. If possible have the business card of the hotel as the Chinese may not understand your pronunciation. Also because the card will have the address of the hotel.

10. Be prepared of the huge crowd. There are millions of people living in China. Even when visiting a park on a weekday, there will still be huge crowds of people. The throng of people can cause some annoyance, but have patience and do not let this hamper your mood.

11. If you are a Muslim visiting China, please google (if not following an agent) the Masjids and halal restaurants. There are a few halal restaurants in China where you can enjoy nice Chinese cuisines.

12. For Muslims, do be prepared to bring an empty bottle every time you go to the toilet. There are no water pipes in the cubicles, so you must take water from the sink before you do your business.

13.  Do take the time to study about the historical places of China. It is really worth understanding the history of the places that you will visit.

14. Shopping in China is wonderful as some of their stuffs are way cheaper than other countries. Their thermal clothes, winter clothes are reasonable and way cheaper than Malaysia. But do beware of some items being so cheap because they may contain dangerous chemicals.

If you have any additional info, do not hesitate to add in the comments section. Thanks for reading.

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