Two Days In Beijing

China has become more sought after post the successful Olympics in 2008 and the relaxed state of its economy. Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, in particular, has cast a spell on both business and leisure tourists. The city has something for everyone — culture vultures, history buffs, foodies and shopaholics. With 48 hours to spare, pick your choice.
Day 1
Make a trip

After landing in Beijing, you cannot get back home without touching the Great Wall of China. The night before your trip, ask the hotel to fix you a cab or join others in an air-conditioned coach to Badaling.

Pep yourself up with a good breakfast – almost all the hotels lay a very lavish spread and you get to choose from a variety of Chinese and Continental breakfast foods. Don’t miss the delightful steamed buns with or without fillings.

A two-hour drive out of the city gets you to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. There are cable cars to the top of one of the many towers. Once you are there, admire the sight of zigzagging masonry walls towering 1000 metres above sea level, stretching for 6700 kilometres from east to west! Digest the thought that this is the fruit of labour that went on for almost more than 2,000 years.

Eat the Peking Duck

When you are returning to the city, stop by for lunch at the Da Dong Restaurant for its fabled Peking Duck, a succulent dish where the bird is roasted in its skin after being marinated for a couple of hours. It is expensive but delicious, and worth it.

Catch a show

Beijing hosts many operas and acrobatics shows. One that is highly recommended is the Kung Fu Show produced by the China Heaven Creations and showing at the Red Theatre in Chongwen district. There are two shows, one at 5:00 pm and the other at 7:30 pm. It is the story of a little boy who wants to be a warrior monk. Through the stages of his growth, we see him diligently practise Kung Fu, master his desires and grow into a venerable monk. It is a visual treat – a stunning array of young men who go through their kung fu steps like a ballet performance. There was only one woman in the group of nearly 40. The one-and-a-half hour show keeps you entranced with excellent stage management, vivid choreography and the Buddhist chant that rings throughout. However tired you get, don’t miss this one.

Check with your hotel about the show and they are sure to arrange a pickup and drop as the theatre has tie-ups with major hotels.

Day two
Catch some of the local sights

The common ones are the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Imperial Garden, The Summer Palace Garden, The Sacred Way and the Ming Tombs. If you are in the mood for walking and are okay with the crowds who flock there, then visit all the gardens — the peonies, the crab apples, the cherry blossoms are all in full bloom to welcome spring. But if you want to ruminate about Chinese royalty and their beliefs, then visit the Sacred Way, which will lead you to the Ming Tombs. Stone statues of various emperors of the Ming Dynasty who are buried there adorn the pathway. Just behind the stone statues are the verdant weeping willows, which add to the serenity of the place. Be ready to spend at least three to four hours here.

Go to the Hutong

“Hutong” refers to all the old parts of the city, especially those that are on the fringes of the Forbidden City and the Imperial Gardens. Large houses with royal courtyards had been demolished over a period of time until somebody stepped in to preserve these historical sites.

So you can ride a rickshaw, a bicycle or get on a boat to visit the area for anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours. Take the route where you get to meet the average Beijinger in the Shichahai area. We met Mr Zhang, who had been recognised for his contribution towards the Olympics when he hosted some international athletes in his house. We had a tour of his home and fishpond, met his children, played carroms with the family, and admired the beautiful Chinese paintings on his walls.

The return lap of the Hutong goes through the Bar Street, a modern street that has all kinds of bars – Karaoke bar, beer bar, tea bar et all. They have bright cushioned sofas set around little glass tables with flowers on them. These bars are lined across one side of the wide moat that surrounds the Forbidden City –a great place to spend an evening, listen to music and enjoy a chilled beer.

Visit a Tea House

Before you wind up for the day, make a trip to a Tea House. Try Dr Tea in the ChaoYang district of Beijing. Petite Chinese girls in their red cheongsams brew different flavours. They make you smell the tea mix before it is brewed and offered in a tiny porcelain cup. You will be amazed at the ‘litchi’, the ‘oolong’, the fruit tea especially. You may want to bring some home and it is value for money.

Try a massage

If your feet are hurting after the daylong trip, ask the hotel to get you a masseuse. Or try the massage parlours in the city. The Chinese reflexology massage is known for its relaxing techniques.

It will certainly help you to sleep well before you catch your long flight back.

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